The judge said the victim was 'looking for' a sexual encounter. The victim was 13.

He was 21.

She was 13.

They had sex in his bedroom. He was arrested for the crime.

But according to a South Australian judge, he shouldn’t be in jail, as he did not commit a serious crime.

And today he is ‘free’ on a good behaviour bond.

Sasha Pierre Huerta, aged 21, met the young girl last month at a bar in Adelaide.

It was an all-ages night at the inner city Marble Bar.

The girl was described in court documents as dressed “like a 23-year-old”.

The encounter led to sexting-via-Facebook in which she claimed to be 14 years old. She was actually 13.

“This is a girl who was not a girl who was sitting at home just putting Barbie dolls away,” judge Rosemary Davey said.

The relationship developed and they decided upon a time and place to have sex.

In court, lawyers for both parties agreed that Huerta was aware of her age – and that she could not lawfully consent – when he had sex with her in his home.

In the case before the District Court in Adelaide, Huerta pleaded guilty to one count of having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 14 years.

But the judge did not jail him.

Judge Rosemary Davey : the teenage victim “was looking for” a sexual encounter.

Huerta was sentenced to a two-year jail term, wholly suspended with a two-year good behaviour bond.

The judge Davey said in her transcripts that Sasha Pierre Huerta was not a predator and his teenage victim “was looking for” a sexual encounter.

The Advertiser reports that the courtroom was in fact filled with a class of teenage students hearing the case. The judge referred to these students in her findings.

She said that she doubted the school class in the gallery understood their developing sexuality could lead to criminal charges.

“I’m not suggesting that it’s not a serious matter for a man, although he is a young man too, to have sexual intercourse with a person underage,” she said.

“I would like to do a straw poll of the young people sitting in court at the moment — I’m not going to — to find out how many of them realise it’s a serious crime to even have touching of the genital area under the age of 17.

It’s just that I find it extraordinary that there’s never public discussion about (the fact) we have a whole generation of young people having sex… which is a crime.”

The judge told Huerta that we live in a world where overly sexualised messages are the norm for today’s teenagers.

Should an “age differential” be applied to teenagers rather than a rigid age of consent.

“The reason why the law is as it is, is to protect young people from themselves,” she said.

“Whilst the media and the world we live in might encourage young people to think they are in control of their bodies and their sexuality from a very young age, you know… that with sexual development one does not necessarily have the maturity to make decisions about sexual intercourse at an early age.”

She said, “Regrettably — and I don’t live in an ivory tower — that kind of criminal conduct is happening day in, day out.”

“In fact, if you ask most 17-year-olds or 16-year-olds whether they know (underage sex) was an offence carrying seven years’ imprisonment, they would die with their leg in the air.”

The age of consent in SA (and Tas) is 17. It is 16 years of age in the ACT, NSW, NT, VIC and WA. QLD has an age of 16 for carnal knowledge and 18 for anal sex.

It’s a controversial topic; in the UK there have been calls recently to lower the age of consent to 15.

A leading UK health expert Professor John Ashton said there was an argument for lowering the age from 16, in an effort to “draw a line in the sand” against sex at 14 or younger.

He said society gives out “confused” signals about when sex is permitted, and that many 15-year-olds are unsure of where to turn for support.

Hetty Johnson, founder of Bravehearts, a child protection advocacy group,  has previously called for a debate on the age of consent laws in Australia.

She has suggested that an “age differential” should apply to teenagers rather than a rigid age of consent.

She told The Brisbane Times in 2012 that the law could set a maximum age difference between teenagers in sexual relationships. However, she called for people aged 16 and 17 to be restricted from having sexual relationships with older people more than 10 years their senior, in a bid to protect them.

But how young is too young?

And can we really be blaming the media and sexualised images, for a 21-year-old man taking advantage of a 13-year-old girl… No matter how dressed up she was?

From The Advertiser:

  • The legal age of consent in South Australia is 17.
  •  The age of consent rises to 18 if one of the parties is in a position of authority over the other.
  •  Having sex with a child under the age of 17 has a maximum penalty of 10 years’ jail.
  •  Having sex with a child under the age of 14 has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
  •  It is not illegal for two 16-year-olds to have sex together.
  •  It is also not illegal for a 16-year-old to have sex with someone they believed was 17 or older.
  •  Any person convicted of a child sex charge becomes a registrable offender under the Child Sex Offenders Registration Act

Average age of consent around the world:

In Bahrain, it is set at 21 for women who want to marry without their father’s consent, while in Saudi Arabia, all sex outside of marriage is illegal but there are no laws limiting the age at which you can get married.

In China, the age of consent is 14, in Iraq it is 18, while in Japan it is five years lower at 13.

Brazil, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador and Colombia all have it set at 14.

And in some countries – such as Chile – the minimum age of consent is 14, but there are legal restrictions on sexual activities up to the age of 18, and homosexual sex is illegal before that age.

America’s age of consent varies from 16 to 18 between different states.

In Angola, the age of consent is just 12.