Judge rejects argument that 15-year-old was over age of consent in sexual assault case

A Kansas judge on Wednesday rejected an argument from a 21-year-old man who claimed that he should not be charged for sexually assaulting a minor because the girl, who was 15 at the time of the alleged assault, would be legally considered 16 under a state law that defines life as beginning at conception.

Douglas County District Court Judge James McCabria rejected the motion from Jordan Ross, who is accused of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. McCabria cited an opinion from the Kansas Court of Appeals, which states that the law can be used in public health codes, not in criminal codes, according to The Associated Press.

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“Courts must construe statutes to avoid unreasonable or absurd results,” the appeals court judge previously wrote.

Ross's trial, originally scheduled to begin Monday, has since been delayed as McCabria has allowed Ross's lawyers time to form a new defense strategy.

His lawyer, Cooper Overstreet, previously argued in court that the state's laws defining life as beginning at conception would mean that the girl in question would have been above Kansas's legal age of consent at the time of the alleged assault.

“Because of recent statutory amendments establishing that life begins at fertilization, the alleged victim in this case should be considered by this court as nine months older than her date of birth,” Overstreet’s motion read, according to the AP.

“Because of this, at the time of the alleged incident, the alleged victim would have been 16 years old and thus a charge of aggravated indecent liberties is factually impossible,” he argued.

Kansas's law defining life as beginning at conception, which also bars state funds from being sent to organizations that perform abortions, went into effect in July.

“The legislature hereby finds and declares the following: The life of each human being begins at fertilization; unborn children have interests in life, health and well-being that should be protected; and the parents of unborn children have protectable interests in the life, health and well-being of the unborn children of such parents," the statute reads.