The word molestation raises instant emotions in people, none of them good. People experience anger, disgust and even fear when the subject is brought up. Ask anyone exactly what molestation is, however, and many of them can’t articulate it for you. In part, this could be because it’s a distasteful subject and so they haven’t taken the time to properly understand it. But sometimes the lack of knowledge is due to confusing legal terms.
The term ‘molestation’ is commonly taken to mean sexual abuse of a child. According to the FreeDictionary.com, the word molestation refers to “a crime involving a range of indecent or sexual activities between an adult and a child, usually under the age of 14.” The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines molestation as “making annoying sexual advances to; specifically: to force physical and usually sexual contact on (as a child).”
Oddly enough, these two definitions do not sound like they are describing the same action. That can be somewhat confusing for someone who isn’t sure exactly what the term means to begin with. And then there are the added complications of the legal definitions, where molestation is often referred to as Child Sexual Abuse.
In Michigan, the term ‘molestation’ is not used to describe an adult or teenager’s sexual advances toward an underaged child, or a sexual assault of a minor. Instead, we use the terms ‘criminal sexual conduct‘ to describe most forms of illegal sexual activity. This includes everything from rape to illicit touching of a victim who is completely dressed. They are all referred to as criminal sexual conduct in Michigan law.
How people define molestation changes from person to person.
The way Michigan’s legal system differentiates between those two extremes, is to divide criminal sexual conduct into four categories, called degrees. First and Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct refer to sexual penetration of the victim, and therefore many people assume that they don’t pertain to molestation. This is because “molestation,” as most people understand it, refers to sexual touching of a child, but not any type of sexual penetration. Please know that this is INCORRECT!
The term ‘child molestation’ is used by different people to mean different things. Some people think of molestation as being nothing more than sexual touching without penetration. Some think of it as exposing one’s genitals to a child for sexual pleasure. While some think of it as meaning rape of a child. In truth, molestation isn’t a legal term in Michigan. So anyone accused of child sexual abuse isn’t going to be charged with ‘Child Molestation.’ Instead, they will be charged with First, Second, Third or Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct, depending on the circumstances.
Join us next time, when we will break down the way Michigan law deals with child sexual abuse, and how the crime of “child molestation” in it’s many variations could be prosecuted. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of abusing a child, either sexually or in any other other way, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our skilled child abuse defense attorneys have been helping parents and caregivers accused of child abuse and neglect for decades. We can help you too.