John Stossel

The very day Nikki turned 17, she moved in with Frank. They lived together, and a few years later, they got married. That was almost nine years ago. Today they have four little girls.

Marrying Nikki, however, didn't change Frank's legal situation. While he was on probation, he couldn't take the kids to parks and playgrounds because other children were there. He was told he'd have to get special permission to pick up his own kids from day care.

For the rest of his life, he'll be on the sex registry.

He isn't in jail, but registering as a sex offender every year and worrying that people will think he's a pedophile or a rapist is a kind of prison. When Frank and Nikki are an elderly couple, he will still be listed as a man who victimized a 15-year-old child.

That's insane.

The Centers for Disease Control says 25 percent of 15-years-olds admit to having had intercourse. Almost 40 percent of 16-year-olds say they've had sex. So in most states, under today's tough laws, millions of kids are guilty of sex crimes. Most, of course, are never prosecuted.

But if you are a member of the "wrong" ethnic group, or a cop doesn't like you, or the father of the girl doesn't like you (more on that next week), your life can be ruined.

Laws always have unintended consequences. Beware candidates who promise to cure society's ills.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate