A north-east sheriff fears Scottish child sex legislation is being used to “criminalise” normal behaviour between experimental teenagers.
Annella Cowan said she was also concerned the law as it stands was designed to protect only young girls – and not young boys.
She spoke out as a young man appeared before her at Aberdeen Sheriff Court and admitted sending sexually explicit messages to a 13-year-old girl via Facebook.
Jamie Reed-Jamieson – who is aged 18 but was 17 at the time of the offences – also admitted “intentionally causing” the same girl to “participate in a sexual activity” by asking her to pose in her underwear while he pretended to take photos of her.
Sheriff Cowan delayed sentencing Reed-Jamieson yesterday after hearing the schoolgirl was the one who initiated the conversations, which happened between February and March last year.
She asked fiscal depute Sally McAuley: “If a person over 16, in this case 17 years old, communicates using sexual language with a girl aged between 13-16, for the purpose of sexual gratification, that’s a crime?”
The fiscal depute replied that it was, but added that if there had been less than two years between them, Reed-Jamieson may have had a statutory defence.
Mrs McAuley said that the offences were reported to the police after the child’s aunt discovered she had been using a Facebook account and informed the youngster’s mother.
The messages between the pair were then discovered.
Sheriff Cowan said: “Dealing with matters like these where the Crown’s position is that this young lady made the approach herself, I have concerns about the way in which the law is being applied.
“It criminalises young men in respect of these matters.
“There is an apparent attitude which needs to be explored by the court, that young women require to be protected and young men don’t.
“I do not wish to stray into matters which may be political but I have serious concerns about sentencing him on this basis.
“My concern is the position the two individuals are put in by the legislation.”
Sheriff Cowan added: “This could be explained as normal exploratory sexual activity being criminalised.”
Sentence was deferred on Reed-Jamieson, of 6 High Street, Insch, until later this month for a proof in mitigation to be heard into the facts surrounding the case.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government last night declined to comment on the case and said it would not be appropriate to do so until it had been concluded.