BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - A former YMCA camp counselor, accused of impregnating an 11-year-old girl, is no longer charged with rape. Why is the teen-aged defendant facing reduced charges?
On Thursday, an Erie County grand jury charged the former camp counselor, Martel Jones, with misdemeanors. Attorneys say in most instances a camp counselor having sex with an 11-year-old would be an automatic felony, but this was a rare exception because of Jones' age.
The grand jury charged 18-year-old Martel Jones with two counts of sexual misconduct. Jones had been facing felony rape charges in City Court earlier this week stemming from an encounter last July at the Ellicott-Masten YMCA with an 11-year-old girl attending summer camp.
Defense attorney Michael O'Rourke said, "When this matter originally started, he was charged with "B" felonies, which carried up to 25 years in prison, so obviously it is a very positive development."
The girl, known in court papers as "Jane Doe," accused Jones of getting her pregnant during the rape and gave birth to a baby boy in March.
Jane Doe's attorney, John Elmore, said, "But these are very serious charges, because Martel Jones is facing up to two years in jail. He is facing up to six years of probation, and the possibility of being listed in the sexual offender registration list for the rest of his life."
The girl and her family are now suing the YMCA for gross negligence.
"An 11-year-old child has been deprived of her childhood, and now is responsible for raising an infant young boy," said Elmore.
By law, an 11-year-old girl is too young to consent to a sexual act known as "statutory rape," a felony. So why is Jones only charged with misdemeanors? Attorneys say it's a quirk in the law, because Jones' was 17-years-old at the time of the incident.
Elmore explained, "If an 18-year-old has sex with an 11-year-old, it is automatically a felony, because an 11-year-old is too young to consent. If a 17-year-old had sex with a 10-year-old, it would automatically be a felony."
Jones was a few weeks short of 18 at the time and Jane Doe had just turned 11.
"A few months younger, and she would have been 10, yes," said Elmore.
Attorneys say other circumstances such as the use of force could have led to a felony. Jones' attorney now says he will ask for youthful offender status when Jones returns to City Court on July 14th.
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