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 Statutory-rape laws that foreclose a mistake-of-age defense have been subject to scathing and widespread legal criticism. Beginning in the 1960's and 1970's, a seemingly unanimous front of legal commentary has opposed the concept of strict liability for this type of crime as lacking any sound philosophical, historical, or legal foundation and, what is even worse, as having its origin in faulty and inept judicial analysis of applicable precedents. See, e.g., 1 Wharton's Criminal Law, at § 76; 2 Model Penal Code, § 213.6 cmt. 2 at 413-17; LaFave & Scott, Criminal Law at § 5.1; L. Myers, Reasonable Mistake of Age: A Needed Defense to Statutory Rape, 64 Mich. L. Rev. 105 (1965); R. Tonry, Statutory Rape: A Critique, 26 La. L. Rev. 105 (1965); R. Singer, Strict Criminal Liability: Alabama State Courts Lead the Way Into the Twenty-First Century, 46 Ala. L. Rev. 47, 79 (1994); People v. Hernandez, 61 Cal. 2d 529, 393 P.2d 673, 674 n.1, 39 Cal. Rptr. 361 (Cal. 1964) (one of the first contemporary judicial opinions to analyze statutory-rape laws thoroughly). The thrust of this criticism is that strict liability in the context of felony sex offenses cannot be justified ...

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