CASPER, Wyo. — Statutory rape laws across the United States have changed over time but both Wyoming and Florida have had a minimum age of consent to sexual intercourse on the books since at least 1880, according to the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University and the University of Missouri–Kansas City.
Back in 1880, the age at which a person could legally consent to sexual intercourse in both Wyoming and Florida was 10 years old, but by 1920, the age of consent in Wyoming had been raised to 16 years old and in Florida to 18 years old, the Center for History and New Media shows.
The age of consent in Wyoming is currently 16 years old and remains 18 years old in Florida.
The Casper Star-Tribune broke a story on Friday, reporting that Wyoming Sen. Anthony Bouchard had told a reporter that when he was 18 years old he had impregnated a girl who was 14 years old.
Bouchard himself said in a Facebook video on Thursday evening that he got a girl pregnant when both were teenagers: “She was a little younger than me, so it was like a Romeo and Juliet story,” Bouchard said in the video.
Bouchard said that he released the video to get out ahead of the story, saying that a reporter from a United Kingdom media outlet, which he did not name, had attempted to interview him as part of an investigation into his past. Bouchard is running for Wyoming’s only seat in the U.S. House, as one of a number of candidates attempting to unseat Wyoming’s U.S. Rep. Lize Cheney.
He said that investigation into his past is an attempt at what he called “dirty politics.”
“They are willing to go back almost 40 years to something that happened in my youth,” Bouchard said in the video. “Bottom line is, you know what, it is amazing that they look at things so negatively.”
Florida statute 800.04 makes it a second degree felony when a person 18 years of age or older engages in sexual activity with a person between the ages of 12-16 years old. Such and offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Florida has a so-called “Romeo and Juliet” law. When a person is found guilty of a statutory rape offense in the state, they are generally required to register as a sex offender.
Florida’s “Romeo and Juliet” law (Florida Statute 943.04354) allows a person to request removing a requirement that they register as a sex offender if they are no more than four years older than the victim at the time of the offense and the victim was at least 13 years old at the time and consented to the sexual conduct.
While the “Romeo and Juliet” law allows someone a path to be removed from the sex offender list, it does not remove any other sentence they face as a result of a conviction in a statutory rape case. The “Romeo and Juliet” laws were passed in Florida in 2007.
Wyoming does not have “Romeo and Juliet” provisions and has a different set of laws and sentences related to statury rape.
Under Wyoming Statute 6-2-315, a person is guilty of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree if the person is at least 17 years of age or older and “inflicts sexual intrusion” on a victim who is 13-15 years of age. The victim must be at least four years younger than the actor to qualify as sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.
Someone convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree can face imprisonment of up to 20 years in Wyoming.