September 15, 2006
Another teenager in Columbia County is charged with a sex crime.
A 16-year-old sophomore is accused of inappropriately touching a female student at Lakeside High School.
Teenagers are getting fair warning. Chief Magistrate Judge Wade Padgett is letting everyone know teenage sex is a crime through a series of seminars called "Teenage Years 101".
But just days after one of the classes, a 16-year-old Lakeside High student is charged with sexual battery.
"Obviously they haven't gotten the message," Capt. Steve Morris of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office told News 12. "We can only hope these classes educate parents that this cannot and will not be not tolerated."
The juvenile, whose name is not being released, is accused of inappropriately touching a fellow sophomore on the bus.
It's considered a felony because the female is only 15 years old.
If she were a year older, the charge would be a misdemeanor.
"The parents and the kids would come in and say, 'Well, if only I knew,' and that gets frustrating, because people ruin their lives," Judge Padgett said.
And as the judge works to clarify the law for parents, Capt. Morris says in this case there should've been no confusion.
"In some cases there's no gray areas, there's no question, and sometimes there are," he said. "In these classes the judge clears that up. But these kids know better. They chose to make wrong decision."
That's because under Georgia law, "a person commits the offense of sexual battery when he intentionally makes physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person without the consent of that person."
School board member Regina Buccafusco says students need to know the legal consequences because they will be held accountable.
"People know where the line is and know what is proper and what's not," she told News 12. "Why would someone want to push it? They need to be punished."
The 16-year-old male has been charged and released back to his parents.
If you'd like to attend Judge Padgett's next class, it will be on September 26 at 7 p.m. at the new Columbia County Performing Arts Theater.
This class is only for teens.