Illinois Man Charged with Sexual Assault of Teen Girl Seeks ‘Mistake-of-Age’ Defense

In May of this year, 30-year-old Christopher Lee, a former dean’s assistant at St. Charles North High School was charged with criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse after engaging in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl at the school.  Lee has pleaded not guilty.  Now his attorney has filed a motion which seeks to allow Lee to assert a mistake-of-age defense.  He is currently free on $50,000 bail.

In Illinois, the legal age of consent is 17, he age the alleged victim was at the time.  Lee’s attorney maintains the case stems from “consensual sex,” however his client is currently unable to use the mistake-of-age defense due to the fact he allegedly committed the crimes he is charged with while in a “position of trust.”  When a case involves a teacher, school employee, or someone who is considered to be in a position of trust, authority, or supervision, the age of consent rises to 18.

According to the Chicago Tribune article regarding the relationship, Lee and the 17-year-old student sent racy text messages to one another, had sexual relations at his St. Charles apartment, and stole kisses in a stairwell at the school located outside the view of surveillance cameras.  During his interview, Lee said that he knew the girl was 17.  Lee’s attorney essentially wants his client to be able to use the defense which would allow Lee to claim he made a reasonable mistake based on “false or fraudulent representation of age by an alleged victim.”

Lee’s attorney wrote in his motion that, “The Illinois statutory scheme is absurd and unconstitutional on equal protection grounds.”  Arguments on the motion are scheduled to be heard on January 21.

Defense lawyers who represent clients accused of having sexual relations with underage minors know that in many situations, an underage teen will claim that he/she is of legal age when a relationship with an older adult becomes more serious.  Many adults in a position of authority or trust become involved in consensual relationships with younger people who claim to be of age.  Unfortunately, it makes no difference whether a person who is underage consented to sexual relations; it is a criminal offense, regardless.  This leaves those who are convicted of sexual assault potentially facing years in prison, not to mention ruin of their careers and reputations.

In Michigan, the criminal penalties for someone found guilty of various sex offenses are extremely harsh; in some cases, a person convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct may face a life prison term.  Perhaps the most damaging consequence of all for alleged offenders is the requirement to register as a sex offender, often for life.

If you have been charged with sexual assault, rape, Internet sex crimes, or any related offense in Lansing, Ann Arbor, or surrounding areas, contact a skilled and aggressive sex crimes attorney immediately.  Your legal rights and freedom must be protected in the early stages, and a vigorous defense strategy developed on your behalf.

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