What is a “tender-years” sexual assault charge?

By Maynard & Sumner, LLC of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Violent Crimes on Thursday, June 28, 2012.

In North Bergen, a 42-year-old man was arrested on allegations of sexually abusing a child. The child is reported to be 11-years-old and a family member. The Bergen County man was subsequently charged with sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and child abuse. Under the statute N.J.S. 2C:14-2, sexual assault is generally defined by an act of penetration. However, it can also be an act of sexual contact if the victim is under the age of 13 and the actor is over four years the victim’s senior, also known as a “tender years” sexual assault. In State v. Zeidell, 154 N.J. 417, 428 (1998), the court states that a number of elements must be satisfied in order to prove guilt:

[A] tender-years-sexual assault . . . contains three key elements. They are: (1) a victim who is less than thirteen years old, (2) a defendant-actor who is at least four years older than the victim, and (3) a sexual contact with a victim under the critical age. The sexual contact with a victim involves an intentional sexual touching: the actor may touch himself or herself, the actor may touch the victim, or the victim may touch the actor. Each such intentional touching must be for at least one of four purposes: either degrading or humiliating the victim, or sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the defendant-actor. Finally, if the touching is by the actor of himself or herself, the . . . touching must be in view of the victim whom the actor knows to be present.

The Bergen County man is suspected of also raping the child, which could lead to an upgrade in charges. The defendant has been released from jail after posting $75,000 bail.

Source: The Jersey Journal, “North Bergen man, 42, facing charges of sexually assaulting 11-year-old family member.”

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