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Explanatory Memorandum to Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008

Article 36: Articles 32 and 33: sexual relationships which pre-date family relationships

7.84.This Article provides A with a defence to the offences under Articles 32 and 33 if he can prove that his sexual relationship with the child pre-dated the start of the familial relationship as defined in Article 34. Thus, for example, where two divorced people meet because their respective 16 and 17 year old children are engaged in a sexual relationship and the parents decide to marry, if all four persons were to move into the same household the criminal law would not interfere in the ongoing sexual relationship between the children, even though they would otherwise have been brought within the scope of the offence. This defence is not available where A and the child are related as set out in Article 34(2) (whether by blood or adoption). The effect of paragraph (2) is to limit this to the situation where the sexual relationship was lawful so it would not cover for example a relationship with a child of under 16.

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