A judge released a 19-year-old Westwood man pending trial after authorities charged him with having sex with an underage girl.
Michael Mejia “engaged in multiple acts of sexual penetration” with the under-16-year-old minor, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said.
Detectives from Musella’s Special Victims Unit and Westwood police arrested Mejia after borough police “received information that [he] engaged in sexual activity” with the victim, the prosecutor said.
They charged him with sexual assault and child endangerment, he said.
A Central Judicial Processing Court released Mejia, with conditions, less than 24 hours later, records show.
Under New Jersey state law, statutory rape occurs when one of the partners is between 13 and 16 and the other is at least four years older.
SEE: It's Still Rape
Those adults who claim “she/he looked 18″ — or said the victim showed a fake ID — have no defense, under what is known as the standard of strict liability. An adult also can’t claim that he or she was seduced.
If convicted, an adult faces up to 10 years in prison if the youngster was between 13 and 16. Penalties are much more severe if the child is younger than that.
Convicted adults also must register as Megan’s Law offenders, with lifetime parole.
Defendants in statutory rape cases also can be sued in civil court for personal injury.
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