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Fine Points of the Law



On successive days in January in the courthouse in Sheboygan, Wis., 17-year-old Alan Jepsen and 17-year-old Norma Guthrie were each charged with sexual assault for having consensual sex with their respective 14-year-old, opposite-sex companions. However, Jepsen was charged with a felony (maximum: 25 years in prison), and Guthrie was charged with a misdemeanor (maximum, 9 months).

In January, a judge at Britain's Bristol Crown Court dropped the case against a 20-year-old man accused of robbing a driving instructor because the victim-witness was "too believable" in her testimony to the jury. Judge Jamie Tabor explained that the victim had only seen the defendant for a split-second, but that she appeared so sincere and courageous that the jury probably regarded her courtroom identification of the man as more authoritative than the mere glimpse deserved. 

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