A dozen men have reportedly been arrested in two statutory rape cases that allegedly took place on and near Alabama’s Jacksonville State University over the past year.
The defendants, which include JSU students, face charges of second-degree rape and second-degree sodomy after allegedly having sexual relations with two underage girls between the ages of 13 and 15, NBC News reported, citing a university attorney.
“The girls were making contact through social media connections and then coming onto our campus or adjacent to our campus to meet these individuals,” university attorney Sam Monk said.
A university spokesperson, in a statement sent to HuffPost on Sunday, confirmed that school administrators contacted an independent investigative agency after they were first notified of the allegations. They are currently cooperating with local authorities.
“Investigators have informed us from the onset that this was a contained situation and that there was not – nor does there appear to be at this time – any safety concern for any JSU students arising out of this matter,” the spokesperson said.
One of the defendant’s attorneys, Bill Broome, argued against the charges while casting one of the two girls as “a 15-year-old female predator” who portrayed herself as a 19-year-old JSU student on social media, going so far as to know class schedule times and instructors’ names.
“This is just wrong to label these young men as rapists and potentially have to register as sex offenders,” he told WBRC.
Investigator Jay Harrington, of the 7th Judicial Circuit Major Crimes Task Force, told The Gadsden Times that because of the girls’ ages, they were unable to legally consent to sex.
“It was not rape by forcible compulsion by any means,” he said.
Under Alabama state law, second-degree rape is when someone 16 years old or older engages in sexual intercourse with someone who is younger than 16 but older than 12. The victim must be at least two years younger than the offender. Having sex with someone “who is incapable of consent by reason of being mentally defective” is also considered second-degree rape under Alabama law.
All 12 men have been released on bond.