Gilbert v. People

In Gilbert v. People, 52 V.I. 350, 354 (V.I. 2009), the Court recognized that the Child Protection Act of 2002 was modeled after statutes enacted in Maryland and Washington, where "the age of the victim is one of several potentially aggravating factors." Id. at 359 . But in Gilbert, the Court held that proof of force, intimidation, or use of a position of authority was a necessary element under section 1700a(a) as to a 17-year-old victim because to hold otherwise would "lead to absurd consequences the Legislature could not have intended." Id. at 359. "Notably, a literal interpretation of section 1700a -- which does not contain any "Age Gap" provisions -- would authorize the prosecution of eighteen-year-olds who have consensual sex with seventeen-year-olds, and, at a minimum, subject those eighteen-year-olds to a mandatory ten-year prison sentence. Likewise, although the Legislature clearly intended to punish older adults who have sexual relations with children under the age of sixteen more harshly than those who have consensual sex with sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds, the People's interpretation of section 1700a would impose the same minimum punishment on both types of offenders." Id. at 359-60.