You might think the claim that California has legalized pedophilia wouldn’t pass the smell test with most people. Not in 2020, when certain Republican politicians have seized on the passage of a law regarding sex offenders as an opportunity to rally QAnon believers, a growing and active group of conspiracy theorists.
First, a little back story.
Think about high school: Not all teen sex is pedophilia. Today, the average American loses their virginity around the age of 17. So California law provides for judicial review of certain cases as a backstop to overzealous prosecutors keen to put someone on a sex offender registry who possibly shouldn’t be there — like an 18 year old caught having consensual sex with a 16 year old.
But the penal code, which dates back to 1944, included only vaginal sex. Senate Bill 145, signed into law last week, extends the backstop to other forms of sex, including that which could happen between homosexual or transgender individuals.
The new law does not legalize statutory rape. It also does not give judges discretion to keep adults off the registry who victimized a child under the age of 14 or adults who engaged in sex with a teenager more than 10 years their junior.