Innocent Victim or Willing Participant?

Thirty-four-year-old Ricci Jones gave birth to a daughter on January 20, 1995. Nathaniel J, the child's father, was 15 years old at the time of conception. Ricci immediately filed for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (commonly known as welfare) in the California county of San Luis Obispo. Since in California, both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children, the San Luis Obispo District Attorney's Office sought welfare reimbursement and future child support payments from Nathaniel. Nathaniel admitted that he and Ricci had engaged in mutually agreed upon sexual intercourse five times within a two-week period, and that he was the child's father.

Because of Nathaniel's age, the action of the district attorney's office triggered an investigation by the San Luis Obispo Police Department for the crime of statutory rape of Nathaniel by Ricci. Ricci was prosecuted and ultimately convicted of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

At the hearing for Nathaniel's obligation to pay child support, Nathaniel argued that he should not be held responsible because he was the innocent victim of a crime. The trial court did not agree with Nathaniel's argument, but ordered his support obligation held in reserve until he reached the age of 18.

Nathaniel appealed.

The Appellate Court agreed with the trial court. In California, since both parents are liable for the financial support of their children, and Nathaniel was the father of Ricci's daughter, Nathaniel could be ordered to pay child support.

The Appellate Court also noted that there is a difference between a person who is injured through no fault of his own, and one who willing participated and is injured. Specifically one who willing participates in a crime is not a typical crime victim and will not be treated as one.

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