2011-12-01 / Local & State

Sandusky Charges Bring Focus On Pa. Sex Crime Laws

By Mark Scolforo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Plainly stated, the most serious of the 40 criminal charges against Jerry Sandusky are that he sexually attacked young boys, subjecting them to anal and oral sex.

That may sound to many people like a case of rape, but police and prosecutors instead charged him with seven felony counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

The question of whether to use the word rape comes down to the finer points of Pennsylvania state law, discretionary decisions by police and prosecutors and the necessarily politically charged language of sex in general and violent sexual offenses in particular.

Experts say the Pennsylvania definition of the two crimes overlap considerably, but the legal definition of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse covers behavior different from a rape involving vaginal sex between an adult man and woman.

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