Statutory Rape and Defilement in Ireland: Recent Developments

Finbarr McAuley

in Essays in Criminal Law in Honour of Sir Gerald Gordon

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780748640706
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651450 | DOI:
Statutory Rape and Defilement in Ireland: Recent Developments

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This chapter deals with key aspects of the criminal law relating to sexual offences against children. It sets out the legal regime governing statutory rape under the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935; considers the effect of the decision of the Supreme Court in CC v Ireland and analyses the reasoning in that case; presents a description and assessment of the legislative response to CC; and draws conclusions and makes recommendations as to how the law in this area might be improved. The principal conclusion of the chapter is that strict liability should be reinstated as the cornerstone of the criminal law governing statutory rape. It recommends that the Irish Constitution be amended to permit this to happen; but that a legal regime built on the principle of strict liability should be structured so that experimental sexual behaviour between children of comparable age should be excluded from the ambit of a newly configured offence of statutory rape.

Keywords: Irish law; criminal law; statutory rape; Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935; Irish Constitution; sexual offences; crimes against children; strict liability

Chapter.  7068 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law

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