The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 5, 2008

Missouri House bill would raise age of consent to 18

By Alexandra Nicolas

Missouri teens could soon be held to a higher standard of sexual responsibility.

House Bill 2095, sponsored by state Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, would raise the age of sexual consent to 18; currently it’s 14.

Among other things, the bill creates the crime of sexual misconduct involving a child in the second degree when a person younger than 18 years of age has intercourse or knowingly exposes himself or herself to a person who is at least 14 years of age but younger than 18 years of age and there is 24 months or less age difference between the two parties. Any person guilty of this crime is subject to a fine of up to $200 but will not be required to register on the state’s sexual offender registry.

Cox said the bill would reduce sexually-transmitted diseases and the emotional damage caused by teen intercourse.

He also said that although he knows the bill is a small step, he hopes harsher penalties for sexual misconduct involving minors will make students reconsider for their own health and that of others.

The prevention of STDs was a subject of concern elsewhere in Jefferson City.

House Bill 1504, sponsored by Juanita Head Walton, D-Florissant, would allow for “expedited partner therapy.” Licensed physicians would be able to treat the sexual partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea without an exam.

The committee unanimously passed the bill Tuesday.

Though the bill looks to stay a step ahead of sexually-transmitted diseases, expedited partner therapy could only be used in a county health department or district if the local case rate for chlamydia or gonorrhea is at least 20 percent higher than last year’s total or the local rate is 50 percent higher than the latest national statistic.

Physicians will also be granted immunity from resulting civil liability unless they acted recklessly, in bad faith or with malicious purpose.

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