While Benda does not have a criminal record in Minnesota, the charges still show up in public records. In a hotel room two years ago after prom, Samuel J.Benda didn’t question his 17-year-old girlfriend when she took a naked picture of herself in the mirror on his cellphone. “I didn’t think.” Now, her former boyfriend is facing serious consequences.“It just angers me that our society considers him in the same breadth as a pedophile,” said James Benda, of Burnsville.“It just doesn’t seem fathomable to me.” CRIME AND PUNISHMENT Weeks after George Knowlton started his senior year last fall at Simley High School in Inver Grove Heights, the 18-year-old athlete and honor-roll student was charged with felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct for having consensual sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend.Florida adopted a “Romeo and Juliet” law in 2007, allowing some people to petition the court to forgo registering as a sex offender.Michigan has adopted similar legislation, and Illinois and California groups are pushing for those laws, too.Those who register must tell authorities where they live, work and go to school and what vehicle they drive.
County attorneys say they consider several factors before prosecuting these cases.He was ordered to 30 hours of community work service and three days in jail.Attempts to reach Knowlton for comment were unsuccessful. Yang, 19, who is pursuing a law degree at Briar Cliff University in Iowa, said it wasn’t fair for his former friend to be charged with a felony for a consensual, long-term relationship.Benda’s father, James Benda, said teens convicted of these crimes face an uphill battle when looking for jobs and going to college because of the social taboos of sex offenders.A college already rejected his son because of his conviction, he said.