Sexual Assault within Protected Relationships

A criminal statute which continues to grow and expand is sexual assault.  In Georgia, criminal sexual assault occurs in situations where there is a specified relationship between the parties such that one person has control or supervision over the other.  The assault is a sexual contact between persons not married to one another involving the intimate parts of either person for the sexual gratification of the actor.

The intimate parts of the body include the genital area, groin, inner thighs, buttocks or breasts of a person.

It does not matter whether the alleged victim is of age or not or whether the contact is consensual or willing.

Schools

Schools means an educational program or institution instructing children at any level, pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade, or the equivalent.

If the actor is a teacher, principal, assistant principal, or other administrator of the school and engages in sexual contact with a person the actor knew or should have known is enrolled at that school.

Probation/Community Supervision

The sexual assault law applies to any employee or agent of any:

  • community supervision office
  • county juvenile probation office
  • Department of Juvenile Justice juvenile probation office or
  • probation office

who has sexual contact with a person who the actor knew or should have known was a probationer or parolee under the supervision of that office.

Law Enforcement Agency

Where the actor is an employee or agent of a law enforcement agency, it is an offense for the actor to have sexual contact with a person detained by the agency or in the custody of the agency.

Hospitals

An employee or agent of a hospital commits the offense when the person has sexual contact with an individual knew or should have known is a patient or being detained in the same hospital.

Corrections/Treatment Facilities

The sexual assault law also applies to employees or agents of a:

  • correctional facility
  • juvenile detention facility
  • facility providing services to a person with a disability (see OCGA 37-1-1)
  • facility providing child welfare and youth services (see OCGA 49-5-3)

who engages in sexual contact with an individual in the custody of the facility.

Psychotherapists

A person who is an actual psychotherapist or holds themselves out as a psychotherapist where the person uses the treatment or counseling to facilitate sexual contact with an individual who is the subject of the actor's treatment or counseling.

Regulated Care Facilities

An employee or agent of a facility licensed under OCGA 31-7-3, 31-7-12, 31-7, 31-7-151, or 31-7-173 can be prosecuted for having sexual contact with an individual who has been admitted to or is receiving services from such facility.

Punishment

A violation of this law carries 1 to 25 years in prison or by a fine not to exceed $100,000 or both. 

However, if the victim is a child under the age of 16 years, the punishment is 25 to 50 years in prison subject to OCGA 17-10-6.2.

There is an exception for young people close in age.  Where the victim is 14 to 16 years of age and the defendant is 18 years of age or under and not more than 4 years older than the victim, the offense is treated as a misdemeanor.

Commitment

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