Denton Lawyer Challenging Statutory Rape Law

By Andrea Lucia, CBS 11 News

DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A Denton County attorney is challenging the way statutory rape cases are tried in Texas courts, and his argument could have an impact nationwide.

In April, Richard Gladden argued before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that his client’s conviction for the rape of a 13-year-old girl was unconstitutional.

Gladden alleges the sex was consensual and that his client, Mark Fleming, believed the girl was an adult.  “It’s not fair to hold someone criminally responsible for conduct when they have no mental state – or no intention of doing anything wrong – or knowledge that they’re doing anything wrong.”

His efforts have attracted the support of women with sons on the sex offender registry.  Among them is a North Texas mother, who asked to remain anonymous.

“I don’t want any other mother to feel the way I feel,” she told CBS11.

Her son was stationed at a Marine Corps air base in Yuma, Arizona, in 2009, when he met a girl.  “Just tickled pink, falling head over heels for her,” she recalls.

Pages from her Facebook and MySpace accounts claim she’s 18 or 19 years old and a student for the University of Texas at Austin.  The military mom said she never suspected the girl her son was dating was actually only 13.

“It never dawned on me.  It never crossed my mind, and then when it all fell through and came to light, it felt like someone had punched me in the stomach,” she said.

Her son, she says, was convicted of rape, dishonorably discharged, and sent to prison.  He wasn’t alone, though. His mother says, she soon learned 11 Marines in all were arrested for separate sexual encounters with the same girl, including a second young man from North Texas.

CBS 11 spoke to his mother, as well. She also asked to remain anonymous, but said her son’s plans for a career in the military were cut short by his arrest.  “He told me, ‘I did not know she was that young’”, she said.

It’s unclear if these women’s sons would benefit from Gladden’s success.

Hundreds, if not thousands of men, though, would likely be able to contest their convictions – or get their names off the sex offender registry, if the Texas court rules in his favor. It would also permit future defendants to argue they were misled or had reason to believe their victims were of legal age.

If the Texas justices rules against him, though, he plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he is confident he would ultimately win.

“It would change the law in about a third of the country,” said Gladden.

At the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, that possibility is causing concern.

“I think it’d be a huge step backward for victims,” said Director Jana Barker.

While she admits children don’t always look their age, she doesn’t believe a 13 year old could fool anyone.

“An adult male can’t tell this is an eighth grader?  C’mon,” she said.

  • PJ

    Wow, what’s the matter? You don’t want to post anything that supports Attorney Gladden?

  • Leena

    I am all for victims rights. But after 11 guys, when does she stop being the victim and start being held accountable? And I have a hard time believing that being 13 stopped her from knowing what she was doing. These kids are smart nowadays. And a lot more educated about sex. I’m just glad to see someone taking a stand for our boys. Not all these types of cases are involving low life perverts.

  • m

    Another peril of casual sex. You take the risk, you suffer the consequences…whatever they may be.

  • Denton Lawyer Challenging Statutory Rape Law « Fort Worth News Feeds

    […] Denton Lawyer Challenging Statutory Rape Law A Denton County attorney is challenging the way statutory rape cases are tried in Texas courts, and his argument could have an impact nationwide. Go to News Source […]

  • Mara

    Jena Barker is either a brain washed feminist or not to smart if she really believes a young women such as in this article can’t appear and act like an adult. This is the age and world of full of how to, not Sunny Brook farm or the wizard of OZ.

    • SSGwife

      Also if she saw her Facebook picture right now she wouldn’t think that girl was 13. She would think she is 18+ due to how she is dressed.

    • SSGwife

      That woman needs a reality check big time. My brother did nothing wrong. I am 26 yrs old and I get told all the time (with 2 small children with me) that I look no older than 15, so if someone can be older and look extremely younger she thinks younger girls can’t look older? I have seen many girls all under 18 yrs that look a hell of a lot older than me. Girls these days dress older, want to be older, tell people they are older and then we things like this happen we are suppose to believe she was the victim? Tell that to the 12 lives she ruined! 12 is only the number that was known at the time, I’m positive there are more. Also, I’m sure if it was her son she would have been all for it too! My brother fell for the wrong girl and now his career is gone and his life shattered but this little girl can continue to hunt down young military men and steal their lives.

  • Kynn

    It’s time that we start making kids held liable for their actions. If this girl would have killed these 11 boys she would have been doing jail time but instead everyone wants to look at her as a victim. This rape counselor needs to understand that it’s people like her and her statement that continue to give these girls the okay to do this kind of stuff instead of saying we have a problem Houston that we may need to be looking into. You want to always blame the boy well guess again we need to start looking at the girls actions and educate and council them. This girl gets to play her game let’s do some math she was 13 and in a 7 month time span 11 guys went to prison for her son how many will be in prison by the time she is 18 for real ?? Or will something worse happen.

  • Kay

    Where were the girls parents? How much freedom did they give her? I am a mother of both boys and a girl. I have seen too many young girls dress and act beyond their years. I have seen young kids being left at their homes with no super vision. What do you expect to happen in thier day and age of role models? Be parents, know what your kids are doing, snoop if you have to. Teach values and things like this might never happen. My 13 year old is not allowed to go run around without me. We have a great relationship, but I am the parent, therefore it is my duty to protect them not just from preditors but from theirselves.

  • Jeff H. Reynolds

    This case would likely not be entertained by the U.S. Supreme Court. It hears only a handful of criminal cases each year. For a criminal conviction to stand, the offender should be proven to have knowingly committed a crime. In this instance, it’s hard from me to believe that any dude wouldn’t know the difference between a 13yr old and an 18/19 year old girl.

    • s.t.a.

      Umm…have you looked outside recently….young girls thrive to look older. And this is not her first time to…do her thing….its happened to 11 other men!! It is now the girls fault. She is the one lying about her age time and time again. She should be held accountable. Get your head out of the clouds and back to reality.

  • s.t.a.

    The girl should be held accountable. She is the one who lied about her age to who knows how many men. She is saying she is 19 to all these people when she is actually 13?! Where are her parents?! The men have no blame in this situation. The rape charge is bs when the female is the liar…who knows her own age and is acting as an adult but will not claim it…she is using these men who have worked so hard for what they have fulfilled. She should in the one in prison.

  • BeenRaped

    IF this girl seduced 11 men (where’s the proof other than the same old “blame the victim, she deserved it because of the way she dressed, she wanted it” BS), she should be held accountable as should her parents. However, that does NOT constitute a nation-wide change to rape laws that effect the majority. This is NOT a majority situation. Don’t create more victims with reverse thinking.

    • Alsobeenraped

      I am a rape survivor but I see this law as persecuting our young men and it is abhorent. Yes some men are predators and they should be punished to the full extent of the law.

      But I also have two friends who have had sons convicted of rape of child. One was African American and the other White, in one case both were underage and the other the boy was 19 the girl was 15. In both cases the parents of the girls did not press charges but the district attorney did. In both cases the girl was the aggressor.

      Most of these young girls today are not innocent victims by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t know where the people who think that you can easyly tell the difference between a 13yr old and a 19yr old live. Seriously? Models start at age 13. Have they been to a Jr/High school campus lately? Some of those GIRLS look older than I would ever even want to look.

      I don’t think that this is a call to change rape law, it’s a revisit of zero tolerance in policy. We are talking about young men’s lives here. They are being labeled sexual offenders for the rest of there lives. Their ability to marry, have children or make a living has be severely compromised and that is unacceptable.

    • Momofrapevictimandsonvictim

      BeenRaped I am sorry if you have been a victim I have a daughter that has also been a victim, but I am all for changing the the laws for sex offenders if you would stop for just a second and think if I had a son and this happen to him, how would you feel. I am for the laws to be tough for guys and girls that harm children put the lawmakers have just gotten in a hurry and lumped everyone together this is wrong. Lets stop and take the time and seperate the true criminals from the ones that are caught in bad situations these boys spent time in prison and now are doing life sentences as sex offenders due to unable to bring any evidence against the girl into court if that could have happen they would not be sex offenders and this young lady would be getting counseling by Ms. Jena Barker and not shipped to another state to start all over again. These boys are aged from 18 – 20 so if she was really who she said she was they would have been okay.

  • cookie

    Last year, a 13 year old girl was arrested for drug trafficing. The officers booked her into the ADULT jail. She told them she was 18 and they believed her, said she looked every bit of 18. Happens all the time. These girls should be held accountable for misrepresenting their age. 13 year olds are experts at “fooling” young men if they choose to do so.

  • Lord Vader

    I think ANYONE who lies about their age should be charged with felony sex abuse and the world needs to know who these DEgenerates are! We need to know so we can stay away from these stupid girls!

  • been there

    I was once, the 15 year old who was with the 19 year old. Granted, he did know how old I was and I never misrepresented that but I knew without a doubt what I was doing. Even now, 12 years later I still fully believe that he did nothing wrong. I was a fully willing participant and knew exactly what I was doing. These men shouldn’t be going to jail for this stuff and CERTAINLY not when they have every reason to believe that they are within the law and with someone who is of age!

  • Sandman

    One girl lies about her age and we lose the service of 11 young marine men? The marines should be back at their jobs, fighting for our country. The girl should be in intensive counseling.

    • Denise

      I totally agree with your comments. This is why my son sits in prison. But the girl my son was with was almost 17. He got 4 yrs.

  • Shelomith Stow

    Intent is the difference between a charge of 1st degree murder and 2nd degree or manslaughter. Intent is a key element in many drug charges. Why shouldn’t intent be of importance here? It makes a world of difference if a man’s intent is to have sex with a 13 year old or if his intent is to have sex with an 18 year old.

    And for anyone–anyone–who doesn’t believe that a 13 or 14 year old girl can look 18 or 19, come with me and wander the halls of the school where I taught for many years and see if you can accurately determine the age of the girls whose every waking thought is to make themselves look older, sexier, and “hotter.”

  • Deborah

    I’ve work in a local high school for 11 years and I have a hard time telling who is a freshman. The behavior, manner of dress and attitudes are all out of control!
    The girl deserves to be arrested for entrapment. She knew what she was doing, 11 times over. The service men should be reinstated and given a reprimand. not discharge and wrongful labeling for life!

  • Pat

    Our young girls are more mature than boys a few years there senior. We need to find a way to ensure these boys are not marked for life. Both parties need to be “judged” based on their history. Right now the girl is protected and the boys are thrown to the wolves.

  • lokii

    Sadly there are a few that look far older than they really are. What should be done is all the men she mislead should band together and report this 13 year old and her mom to Child Protective Services. You think her mom would do something considering all the lives her little teen is destroying, but I imagine she is treating her daughter’s escapades as a paycheck when the next lawsuit hits. If they are so keen on ruining lives, they need theirs ripped apart as well.

    • HeyZeus

      I have a feeling that some of the parents and teens that do this to men know exactly what they are doing . They can receive money from ‘victims’ assistance which goes a long way at the mall to buy clothes for their next encounter.

      What alot of counselors don’t want to tell the public at large is, if laws were changed, they would stand to lose millions in income. Who in their right mind would want to stop getting business by their own hand?

      This solely goes for the age related offenses. The real 10% of hard core sex offenders would be unaffected.

    • Grandmother

      The sad thing is the mother does not have custody of her the father does and he is a high ranking member of the military and that is why she gets to start this all over at another base so daddy can get his retirement why these boys get prison. Child Protective Services were called they said they can not do nothing she is a military member child. So I feel the President should do something isn’t he in charge of the military??????

  • misfit64

    when a lie is told to deceive someone knowing it’s wrong,that person should be held accountable for their can not solve a problem with out solveing the whole problem.put all the blame on the male won;t work,the girl has to be accountable for her part.then and only then will the problem be solved.if HB 1806 that makes lieing about the size of a fish you catch in a fishing tournament a 3rd degree felony(2-10 years).why can’t our law makers do the same when a girl or anyone that lies about their age to have sex.when these lies are told it destroys alot of lives.but i guess humans are not important enought as fish.our law makers has to be accountable for these outrageous sex offenders laws(one law fits all)that destroys so many lives(non violent offenders).these laws cost texas and rest of america 10-100’s millions of dallors a year,that dose not protect anyone.the money is used to keep up with the non violent offenders while the violent offenders slips thru the cracks.

  • Laura

    Director Barker,

    I respect your opinion as you are obviously someone you care deeply about the victims of crime since your work in Rape Crisis Center. I too am passionate about victims! I ask that you consider my opinion also as you read below and I show you a glimpse of the system that has changed my life. I have a beautiful grown daughter and a wonderful son myself, so I have been there and done that from both perspectives. I actually agree with your statement that grown men should be able to tell a girl is not of legal age. It’s not the “grown men” that current Texas laws are treating unfairly. Let me explain: teenage boys or even some early 20 year old boys are NOT grown men! Current Texas law treats these young immature people exactly the same as a 40 or 60 year old who forcibly rapes a victim. These young men are given the same prison terms as men who kidnapped their victim, used a knife or gun to threaten their life while violently raping them, etc. These young men’s lives are changed forever by having to register as sex offenders and follow the same rules their entire life just like serial rapists and pedophiles. Two teenagers having consensual sex is very different from the above situations as I’m sure you know and therefore should be treated differently than someone who kidnapped, forcibly raped and even murdered their victim.

    I think you of all people, working in a rape crisis center would support a distinction in crimes and push for law that punishes “real rapist and violent sexual attackers” more harshly than two teenagers having consensual sex. Our sex offender registry and police departments are so overburdened by teenagers who had consensual being on the sex offender registry that they cannot focus on the dangerous people who the list was originally intended for. If you truly care about victims, please consider the victims who are on the registry for life and cannot find employment or housing because they were normal human beings having consensual sex with willing participants. I ask you to recognize all victims of Texas Law……please join us as we try to fix our broken justice system in Texas.

    Thank you for your respectful consideration of my opinions,

    Texas Mom

  • HeyZeus

    Until the courts recognize that past behaviors for BOTH parties influence a sexually charged relationship, things will never change. There are now generations of teen girls that work this system to gain control, attention, or desire to ‘belong’ to something. Every year more and more men are put into prison due to this situation, all the while the teen girl is allowed to go on to the next guy and never have her past behaviors discussed in a court of law.

    Changing the laws to allow defense to bring in character witnesses on obvious cases of age lie would go a long way to helping right the wrongs that have been going on in this country. This change would have no effect on the true rape cases that consisted of force, or subversion by the accused.

    I have a feeling that the major reason that advocacy groups do NOT want these laws to change is that they will lose the power that they so enjoy. Yes, rape is a terrible offense, but someone with a fake ID and a beer in their hand is even more of a travesty.

  • Denton Lawyer Challenging Statutory Rape Law | FrontBurner

    […] is the premise for Denton lawyer Richard Gladden’s argument before a Texas appeals court – his client, he says, had consensual sex with someone who he […]

  • Schroeder

    Holding a 13-year-old to a higher standard of responsibility than one holds someone 18 or over is twisted unless the adult is intellectually challenged. The notion of blaming this girl is exactly the same attitude as the people of Cleveland, Texas, had toward the 11-year-old victim of a gang rape, that it was her fault:

    • kynn

      No it is not the ones in Cleveland, Texas new the girls age and chose to have sex with her anyways. These boys did not know her true age. All I can say if we are going to hold children to a higher standard for murder and drugs we should do the same across the board quit making excuses for these girls that is what wrong with our society. We say one thing and do another. We say teach your kid not to have sex, but we put the pregnant and 16, and pregnancy pack on tv and these girls think that is cool and want to be on tv so they go out and try it. We need to start making kid be responsible for their actions we continue on this pathway and where do our kids end up boys in prison and girls with too many kids that they can not take care and some with diseases they can not cure, and everyone pointing fingers at one other.

      If things were like they were in the good old days where a 13 year old was a 13 year old then this argument would not be taking place and 11 young men would not be on a sex offender list and in prison. But today we promote sex, sex, and more sex and the girls try to out do the other on who can look older and sexier than the other. Go to your local high school no never mind go to your local middle school and see how many girls don’t look like middle school girls but college girls..

  • Dallas Crime Watch: Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    […] •A Denton County attorney is challenging the way statutory rape cases are tried in Texas courts, and his argument could have an impact nationwide, KTVT-Channel 11 reports. In April, Richard Gladden argued before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that his client’s conviction for the rape of a 13-year-old girl was unconstitutional. […]

  • Regina Perkins

    I’m a mother of a son that is a registar sex offender. My son was in a dating relationship with a female that lied about her age. My son served 2 years in prison. I truly pray for changes in the law for young men who were deceived by this Manipulative females. Being a life time registared sex offender has torn my son’s life apart!! As his mother I only want the best for him, I encourage him to stay strong & trust God!!

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