Denise Harvey, a 42-year-old woman, did a very, very bad thing. In 2006, she had sex with a 16-year-old boy.
Why's it a bad thing? Because Denise Harvey lives in Florida. If Denise Harvey lived just a few hours north -- in Alabama or Georgia -- having sex with a 16-year-old wouldn't be considered criminal at all. It would be considered weird or hot, depending on your predilections, but nobody could say boo about it. In those states, 16 years is the age of consent. Just like it is in most of the civilized world. (As I write these words, I'm sitting in Brooklyn, New York, where the age of consent is 17, and I'm drinking coffee procured by a friend from Spain, where the age of consent is 13.)
How was Denise Harvey punished for her grievous geographical error? With 30 years in prison. Which means that her underaged paramour could, in theory, have fathered a son who could then father a son who would be legally have-sex-withable by the time Denise Harvey gets out in the 2040s.
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Harvey's sentence was handed down in 2008, and she appealed. She lost. So she did what anybody would do under similarly crazy circumstances. Denise Harvey ran like hell. On the day in March when she was supposed to begin serving her jail sentence, police arrived at her home to discover her missing. Now, she has been discovered in Saskatchewan, Canada, and she is in custody.
Should a 38-year-old woman have sex with a 16-year-old? Probably not, not that it's any of my business. Should she get 30 years in prison for it? Goddamn, but it's hard to think she should. Certainly, not all of Florida's judges would think so. Circuit Judge Richard Oftedal recently sentenced Jessica Wink, another woman who had sex with a 16-year-old, to probation. And Wink, unlike Harvey, didn't just have sex with a minor. She filmed it.