Did Jamie Lynn's Beau Break the Law?

Her pregnancy spurs legal debate on statutory rape laws
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2007 6:13 AM CST
Teen actress Jamie Lynn Spears, star of "Zoey 101," arrives at the Teen Vogue Young Hollywood Party in Los Angeles on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007. Spears recently announced that she's pregnant. (AP Photo/Matt...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The pregnancy of 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears by her 18-year-old boyfriend is sparking renewed debate about the nation's uneven patchwork of statutory rape laws. Teens in some states can be sentenced to jail for having consensual sex with people not much younger than they are. Because prosecution is left to the discretion of a prosecutor, there's "a disturbing disparity in how these laws are enforced," said one expert.

That disparity drew international condemnation when a black Georgia teen was sentenced in 2005 to 10 years in prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17. He served more than two years. Spears' relationship appears to be legal in Louisiana, where she lives, but may be a misdemeanor in California, where she sometimes works. In any case, Jamie Lynn's dad is said to be "livid" about the news.