Statutory Rape By An Authority Figure

There are three specific statutory rape charges under Tennessee law: statutory rape, aggravated statutory rape and statutory rape by an authority figure. This page focuses on statutory rape by an authority figure.

To convict someone of statutory rape by an authority figure, the state of Tennessee must prove each of the following:

  1. The defendant had unlawful sexual penetration of the alleged victim or the alleged victim had unlawful sexual penetration of the defendant. And,
  2. The victim was at least 13 years of age but less than 18 years of age, and the defendant was at least four years older than the victim. And,

a. The defendant was at the time of the alleged unlawful sexual

penetration in a position of trust and used such position of trust

to accomplish the sexual penetration. Or,

b. The defendant had, at the time of the alleged unlawful sexual

penetration, supervisory or disciplinary

power over the victim by virtue of the defendant's legal,

professional or occupational status and used such power to

accomplish the sexual penetration. Or,

c. The defendant had at the time of the alleged unlawful sexual

penetration parental or custodial authority over the victim and

used such authority to accomplish the sexual penetration. And,

3. The defendant acted either intentionally, knowingly or recklessly.

The most difficult issue that arises when defending these charges is proving a person was an authority figure. Most of the cases decided by the Court of Criminal Appeals involved teachers, employers and those with a family relationship to the victim. One critical issue is determining if a person was in a position of trust. The determination as to whether or not a person was in a position of trust with the alleged victim depends not on the length or formatting of the relationship, but rather on the nature of the relationship. The judge will look to see whether the defendant formally or informally acted in a relationship that promoted confidence, reliability or faith with the alleged victim.

If a person is convicted of statutory rape by an authority figure, the punishment is severe. First, a conviction by a trial or a plea to the charge results in an automatic revocation of the bail bond. Second, the offense carries mandatory prison time, ranging from three to 15 years. Alternative sentencing with probation is not an option. Third, registration as a sex offender is mandatory.

If you are, or a person you know is, facing an allegation of statutory rape by an authority figure, contact me immediately. My office has successfully represented defendants in numerous such cases, and we are ready to help you.

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Call the Law Office of Rob McKinney at 615-686-2115 for a free consultation.