Question: A minor committed sexual battery multiple times with another minor within the family (a step-sister) over a period of several years. There was no intercourse, however. The reason it would likely be considered battery is not that it was forced but because the victim has been proven to be mentally challenged. The activity has not occurred since they are both adults. The minor that was the victim made the family aware but the family chose not to press charges & dealt with it within the family. Both of them are now adults. It has been about 12-13 years since the last occurrence. Can the minor who did this act now be charged even though they are an adult now? If so would he be charged as a minor or an adult? Who initiates the charges if necessary since the woman is still mentally challenged?

Answer: This is a very complicated question with several issues. Ohio case law says that sexual conduct between two minors does not result in statutory rape charges due to Constitutional issues. Further, there is very little case law regarding the involvement of a mentally handicapped person in this type of scenario. I believe you are correct that it becomes sexual battery due to the mental capacity of the victim though.

Adults can be charged with crimes they committed as a minor. However, as you may have seen in the news lately, the statute of limitations on sexual crimes varies and can be a big obstacle for prosecutors. If the statute of limitations has passed the prosecutor would be barred from charging the accused.

As far as charges, the prosecutor could elect to charge the accused as either a minor or an adult. This would depend on the age of the accused at the time the conduct occurred. But it is most likely that the person would be charged as an adult. These charges could be brought by the victim but, it may help in this case to have the family involved considering the circumstances.

Ultimately, this will likely come down to whether the statute of limitations even allows charges to be filed. You should consult an attorney in your area if you want a definitive answer to this issue.