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Massachusetts G.L. c. 265, § 22A: Forcible Rape of a Child Under the Age of 16

Massachusetts General Laws chapter 265, section 22A governs the crime of forcible rape of a child under the age of 16. It provides as follows:

Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a child under 16, and compels such child to submit by force and against his will or compels such child to submit by threat of bodily injury, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or for any term of years. A prosecution commenced under this section shall neither be continued without a finding nor placed on file.

In order to convict a defendant of forcible rape of a child, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The alleged victim was under the age of 16.
  2. The defendant had sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with the alleged victim. Proof of penetration does not require proof of intrusion into the vagina. Touching of the labia or vulva is sufficient proof of penetration for the purposes of the statute. Unnatural sexual intercourse includes forced oral sex and digital penetration.
  3. The alleged victim did not consent to sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with the defendant. The prosecution must prove that the defendant used physical force, threat of force, or non-physical constructive force to compel the victim’s submission (unless the victim was made unable to consent). Threat of harm to a parent of the child may constitute a threat of bodily injury sufficient to overcome the child’s will.

A conviction of forcible rape of a child does not require proof that a defendant knew of the victim’s age. It is not a defense that a defendant did not know that a victim was under the age of 16. It is not a defense that a defendant reasonably believed that a victim as 16 years of age or older. A defendant can be convicted of attempted rape of a child even without involvement of an actual child.

Examples: G.L. c. 265 Section 22A

One well known case involving forcible child rape is Commonwealth v. King. In that case, the defendant was convicted of forcible rape of a child after he asked the 4-year-old victim to lick his penis, which she did after applying toothpaste to it. There, the Supreme Judicial Court determined that, as a matter of law, evidence that a male forced a female to perform fellatio on him is sufficient to support a jury’s finding of penetration. In that case, the SJC also ruled that Massachusetts courts would no longer refer to original complaint evidence as “fresh complaint” evidence because “freshness” has no bearing on admission. Rather, the court decided, Massachusetts courts would, from then on, refer to such evidence as “first complaint” evidence, which is limited to the testimony of one witness, the first person told of the incident.

Related Offenses

Offenses that are similar or related to forcible rape of a child, G.L. c. 265, section 22A include:

  • Non-aggravated rape, G.L.c. 265, section 22(b). The distinction between non-aggravated rape and forcible rape of a child is the age element.
  • Indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14, G.L. c. 265, section 13B
Defenses to Forcible Rape of a Child Under the Age of 16

Defense against forcible child rape accusations requires the finesse of a criminal defense lawyer with experience and social awareness. These types of accusations create a strong emotional response from juries, prosecutors, judges, and the general public. Defense options will depend on the circumstances of the particular case, but it is always critical to retain a lawyer who can aggressively defend you without coming across as callous or insensitive. One solid defense strategy that often arises in these types cases involves the theory that a vindictive ex spouse or ex partner has coached the child complainant to make these false accusations.


Forcible rape of a child under the age of 16 is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for life or any term of years. Given the high stakes, it is important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Massachusetts Rape Defense Lawyer 617-263-6800

Attorney Stephen Neyman represents those charged with criminal offenses in Boston and all throughout Massachusetts. Attorney Neyman has been practicing criminal defense for more than two decades. Over the years, he has successfully represented many clients who have been accused of rape of a child. Attorney Neyman is never afraid to take on challenging cases. He works aggressively at each stage of the criminal proceedings, and he works tirelessly to get the best possible results for his clients.

Forcible rape of a child is a very serious charge carrying the possibility of life in the state prison. A conviction will carry other consequences affecting one’s entire future as well, including sex offender registry requirements. If you have been accused of this crime, you should retain the services of a dedicated criminal attorney with experience in defending those accused of sex crimes. Attorney Neyman has that experience. If you would like to speak with Stephen Neyman about your Massachusetts criminal case, contact his office at 617 263 6800. Attorney Neyman also welcomes e-mail or messaging correspondence through this website. Your initial consultation will be free and confidential, and it will be promptly scheduled as soon as you contact the office. Do not delay. Call today.

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