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Other states have changed their laws to differentiate consensual sex from predatory crimes.Florida adopted a “Romeo and Juliet” law in 2007, allowing some people to petition the court to forgo registering as a sex offender.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.“The punishment didn’t really fit the crime,” Yang said.“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.The relationship started months earlier when he was 17.The girl told police she and Knowlton had sex up to 10 times during the summer, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.The girl also said she specifically recalled having sex with Knowlton on July 20 — three days after his 18th birthday.
The photo is a reflection of her and Benda, his hands covering her body. The girl later told a Dakota County judge that she had forgotten about the picture until police came to her house and asked about it. Benda was convicted of felony child-pornography possession and is awaiting sentencing.“Of course, she’s under the age of consent, and no matter what it’s not right,” Yang said.