Proposed legislation would change Wisconsin law so teenagers involved consensual sexual relationships don’t end up branded as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
State Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc), a cosponsor of the bill, says Wisconsin’s sex offender registry contains more than 20,000 names, but not all of them are predators. “The last thing we want to do is have so many people on the sex offender registry that it’s difficult to differentiate who is a danger and who is not.”
Kleefisch and Rep. Fred Kessler’s (D-Milwaukee) bill would make consensual sex between kids ages 15 to 18 a misdemeanor. As result, their names would not go on Wisconsin’s sex offender registry. “Ruining someone’s life over what may or not be construed as a consensual act at the time should be taken very seriously,” Kleefisch argues.
Several Midwestern states already have similar so-called “Romeo and Juliet” laws on their books.