56 year old St. George Utah resident James Allen Matlock was arrested this weekend for unlawful sexual conduct with a 16-17 year old minor.
Unlawful sexual conduct can be regarding one or more inappropriate circumstances, but not necessarily sex. According to Matlock’s booking report, his charges of unlawful sexual conduct were listed as statute: 76-5-401.2(2)(IV) which is defined by Utah Code as a crime where the suspect “touches the anus, buttocks, or any part of the genitals of the minor, or touches the breast of a female minor, or otherwise takes indecent liberties with the minor […].”
Unlawful sexual conduct in a dressing room
The charges stem from an incident that happened during the summer at a store in the Red Cliffs Mall. A 17 year old teenage girl was shopping in Victoria’s Secret, a store known for its provocative lingerie, when she entered the dressing room along with the suspect. It is unknown whether or not the victim knew 56 year old James Allen Matlock was accompanying her into the dressing room, but she stated she did not give consent for any unlawful sexual conduct to take place.
Charges for touching an older teenager inappropriately
Had the teenager given consent, as some older teenagers do, Matlock would still have charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16-17 year old because of the age gap between him and the teenager. Utah code 76-5-401.2 states that an adult who is more than seven years older than the teenager may face charges for unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
Know the age gap
With the almost 40 year age gap between Matlock and the victim, there wasn’t that gray area that can happen between young adults and teenagers that look older than they are. However, if a 24 year old is dating someone that looks 19 but is actually only 16, they could face charges of unlawful sexual conduct unless they were unaware of the teenager’s age. The state allows some wiggle room with this law regarding 16-17 year olds, but only up to 10 years (7 years if the age of the teenager was known). The safest bet is to know the age of the person with whom you are romantically involved, and to stay within the lawful age limits to prevent any possible charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. For those who are facing charges associated to relations with a minor, contact a criminal defense attorney.