HOUSTON, Texas - A mother fears her 14-year-old son may have to register as a sex offender for having sex with his 12-year-old girlfriend.
The mother, who spoke to Eyewitness News under the condition of anonymity, said her son was detained and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child a few months ago. The two went to the same middle school and were a grade apart, she said. He was charged because she was 12 and he was a few months older than 14.
If found criminally responsible, there could be a long-term consequence.
"Since he's 14, he's facing the possibility of being put on the sex registry. The sex registry is for people who are absolute criminals, pedophiles, child molesters, dangerous people. The worst of the worst," she said.
There is an exemption for some teens. The so-called Romeo and Juliet law protects those who have consensual sex with someone within three years of their age. So, in Texas a 17-year-old can legally have sex with a 14-year-old , but if either party is under 14, like the girl in this case, the law does not apply.
"Every parent needs to know if you have a son or daughter who's sexually active," she warned. "It terrifies us. It terrifies him. He won't have a future. He won't be able to go to school. He won't be able to get a job. He won't be able to get a job digging ditches because he won't be able to pass a background check."
That's why she and her attorney are speaking up.
"Where's the common sense? It's incomprehensible we're doing this to children in our society and something needs to change," said Joe Gutheinz, the boy's attorney.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office filed the case. A spokesman declined to comment due to juvenile privacy concerns.
Juvenile court judges decide whether delinquents are placed on the registry, which has happened, according to two attorneys who defend juveniles.
The boy's mother is asking for compassion.
"Everybody was young. Everybody has a past. Everybody has made mistakes," she added.