My question involves juvenile law in the State of: North Carolina
Our son was 18 last summer when he and his 15-year old girlfriend became intimate. Said girlfriend subsequently went for a walk one day, after her parents had told her to stay away from our son. She called our son who then picked her up, and took her to a party. He took her home the next morning. He does realize that keeping her out all night was a stupid thing to do, but insists that they all just crashed and nothing else happened -- and we believe him, esp as we are familiar with the other kids who were there.
After these events occurred, the girl's father arrived to discuss what had taken place and to warn our son to stay away from his daughter. Our son promised to do so, and he meant it.
The problem is that this is not a huge city. These kids went to the same high school, were in the same youth group at church together, and have a number of the same friends. So no matter how hard he tries to avoid her, they have come into contact with each other. And every time he was been blamed and threatened with arrest for his "criminal activity." Since the girl was only 15, and he was 18 when they were intimate, he, and we, thought the girl's parents meant that he could be arrested for that. We’ve been very scared.
Our son left for his freshman year at college this past August. Of course, it seemed like whenever he was home he/we would see the girl. And of course it was his fault if their eyes even met. Between trying to avoid the girl, and receiving continuing messages that he was to have no contact, our son became pretty depressed and almost physically ill. He had a terrible first semester at college, yet he's always been a decent student.
In late November, four months after this all started, our son received a letter from a local attorney. It explained that if he did not cease ALL communication with the girl, our son would be charged under NC General Statute 14-316.1, contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The letter also went into LOTS of detail about the "collateral damage" that such a charge would bring -- no more college, no future job, no future housing, basically no life…. We recognized that this threatening letter may have been sent since the semester break was approaching. Our son responded to the attorney and promised no contact, again.
Most upsetting was learning over the semester break that the girl's father has spoken of all this to other people at our church, folks that know us and our son. He has made our son out to be a monster. But he's just a very scared college kid.
Our son was home from school this past weekend. While home, he followed through on plans to meet some friends at lunchtime at the high school. On his way out, he bumped into the girl. Of course, a teacher he had known saw them together. The teacher knew the girl, too, and knew she was supposed to be in class. He ordered our son to leave, and the school called the girl's parents. When he got home -- have you ever seen an 18-year old young man cry? -- he called the girl's father and left a message to say that he had inadvertently bumped into the girl at the school, that he was there visiting other friends, and had no plan to see her. That afternoon, even seeing the mailman arrive felt threatening -- we kept expecting the police to arrive.
That's when we pulled out the attorney's letter from Nov, and I did some NC General Statute research. I can't tell you how RELIEVED we were to realize that the 15/18 age difference isn't enough to cause our son to be charged with a felony, and be sent to jail. But we are still waiting for the girl's parent’s response to the school incident. A youth group leader called our son last night to find out what happened this weekend -- apparently the girl's father announced that our son was "walking a thin line."
So now, after all this lovely cathartic writing, I'll get to my question.
What can our son really be charged with? What do we really need to be worried about?
And what about the emotional distress and defamation of character? Isn't this harassment? Our son is a mess and scared to death that he could be arrested at any time. He's now afraid to come home from school, and when home he's afraid to visit friends, afraid to go to church, afraid to even go to the mall. And because of all this, he's doing poorly in school and even seeing a counselor, something he's never done before. And we feel that we’ve wasted at least a semester of tuition, maybe two.
Any suggestions re how to handle all this?