Our client was 19 years old and had recently enlisted in the Air Force. While home for the Christmas holiday, he was hanging out with his cousin. His cousin had met a girl on Instagram who said she was 18.
On the night of the incident, they went to her apartment complex and she hopped into their car. They drove to the back of the apartment complex where the girl had sex with our client as well as his cousin.
While she was having sex with our client, the police arrived and the girl started freaking out. Our client thought it was strange that she was worried about getting into trouble since he didn’t believe they were doing anything wrong. When her uncle arrived, he told the police that the girl was only 14. Our client and his cousin were arrested and charged with statutory rape and child molestation.
While Georgia has historically precluded the defense of mistake of fact in child sex cases, we were able to show the prosecutors that there was some indication in a recent Court of Appeals decision that perhaps this defense would be available in cases where an adolescent misleads the defendant into believing that she is an adult.
Incidentally, the Military Code provides for an affirmative defense where an “accused reasonably believed that the child had attained the age of 16 years…” Thus, we were able to convince the Air Force not to discharge our client while we continued to work with the prosecutors towards a resolution.
After months of negotiations, we were able to convince the district attorney’s office to dismiss the charges against our client. As a result, we were able to keep our client from ever getting indicted and were able to get the arrest expunged from his record.