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Official fined after underage sex
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A government official who paid a 13-year-old for sex has escaped criminal charges after claiming that he did not know the girl was underage.

Lu Yumin, a taxation official in Yibin county, Sichuan province, was fined 5,000 yuan (US$730) after having sexual intercourse with a virgin last December.

Lu was arrested on suspicion of child rape after the victim Xiao Wei (not her real name) reported the incident to police on March 3.

The official paid two men 6,000 yuan so that he could have sex with Xiao Wei in a hotel room. The girl was taken to the room by three school friends and later given a cut of 1,000 yuan, the Chongqing Daily reported.

Lu was detained for several days but told police that he had no idea that Xiao Wei was under-14.

Police decided not to press child rape charges on March 10 and the official was instead given a minor fine for visiting a prostitute.

The Yibin Public Security Bureau said sex with a 13-year-old was not a criminal offence if the person was not aware that the other was underage and the sex was consensual.

According to police, if there were evidence that Lu knew Xiao Wei was under-14 then he would be charged with having sex with an underage prostitute, which carries a jail sentence of between three and 15 years.

The China Law Society (CLS) said police should not just listen to the official's version of events and then close the investigation.

"Does it mean anyone can get away with criminal charges as long as he claims he doesn't know the girl was underage? It is a legal loophole," Wang Zuofu, a CLS consultant said.

Wang said it was difficult to prove that a person is aware of another's age.

However if a person suspects that the other is aged under-14 before sex then they should be charged with child rape or sex with an underage prostitute, he said.

"It was very suspicious that Lu paid 6,000 yuan for Xiao Wei if he didn't know she was underage when a local adult prostitute would only cost about 100 yuan," said Wang.

(China Daily May 12, 2009)

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