Oklahoma City Thunder player Josh Giddey is being investigated by the NBA for possibly having had a consensual sexual relationship with an underage minor. The issue is that the minor was reportedly 15 years old, and the age for legal consent in Oklahoma is 16.
Oklahoma law holds that it’s illegal for a person to have consensual sexual activity with a minor who is younger than 16 years old. A person who engages in such activity may face charges of statutory rape or sexual battery in Oklahoma.
What triggered the Giddey sexual battery investigation?
According to The Washington Post, what triggered the investigation in Giddey’s case is that a girl who was reportedly 15 years old posted images on X/Twitter late Wednesday night, November 22, of her and a shirtless Giddey, along with her claim that they’d just had sex.
If she, in fact, was 15, and if it is found that she had consensual sex with Giddey, then he would be vulnerable to a criminal charge of sexual battery.
Sexual battery in Oklahoma occurs when a person who’s at least 3 years older than a minor touches the body or private parts—in a sexual or lewd way—of a minor who is younger than 16, the legal age of consent. Punishments upon conviction of such sexual battery can include 3 to 20 years in prison.
How has the NBA responded to the allegations?
For now, while the NBA investigates whether Giddey had an inappropriate relationship with a minor, he remains on the Thunder’s active roster. Giddey has continued to practice with the team and is reportedly available to play in games, which he did on Saturday, November 25, a day after the images of him and the girl on social media became widely known.
USA Today reported that Thunder Coach Mark Daigneault said, “Available to play, will play,” before Saturday’s game, and “No change in status from a basketball standpoint.” (Giddey scored 10 points in that game, which the Thunder lost.)
By contrast, star shortstop Wander Franco of baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays was quickly removed from playing time soon after allegations were made last August that he’d had an inappropriate relationship with a minor.
On August 14, the team quickly placed Franco on its restricted list, meaning he was inactive for playing. The next week, Major League Baseball formally placed him on administrative leave.
Franco did not play for the remainder of the season. His case is still being investigated by law enforcement authorities in Franco’s native Dominican Republic, where the sex crime allegedly occurred.
Has Giddey commented on his situation?
Giddey, who is a native of Australia, has declined to discuss his situation with reporters, saying, “I understand the question, obviously, but there’s no further comment right now. I completely understand you want to know about it. But just for right now, I don’t have anything to say.”
A Thunder spokesman has also declined to comment, as has Daigneault, who called the situation a “personal matter.”
Daigneault said, “it’s obviously a league matter at this point,” and “the ball is in their court on that,” USA Today reported. An NBA spokesperson has simply said, “We’re looking into it.”
What are laws and punishments for underage sex crimes?
As for laws and punishments for sex crimes involving underage minors, that depends on the state. But in Oklahoma, as well as in Texas, claiming no knowledge of a minor’s actual age is not considered a legal defense.
That is, if an adult had consensual sex with an underage minor and later claimed to have had no knowledge of the minor’s actual age, such a claim would be irrelevant.
But there are exceptions to some underage sex laws.
How Romeo and Juliet laws protect consenting minors
As in many other states, Oklahoma and Texas both have laws to protect minors from criminal charges when only 2 minors are involved in consensual sexual activity. These are commonly known as “Romeo and Juliet” laws, an informal term that references the tragic romance of the 2 teenage lovers in Shakespeare’s play of the same name.
Thanks to such laws in Oklahoma and Texas, if 2 minors who were at least 14 years old but younger than 18 were found to have had consensual sex, no charges would be filed. However, the 2 teens cannot have been more than 3 years apart in age.
Texas’s Romeo and Juliet law overrules the state’s “age of consent” law, which holds that a person must be of at least a certain age to be mature enough to agree to have sex. That legal age of consent in Texas is 17.
Another exception to a criminal charge of having sex with a minor would be if the situation involved 2 minors who were married.
Texas punishments for underage sex crimes
Having sex with any child younger than 14 is a serious crime with severe punishments in Texas as well as Oklahoma. Federal laws can also apply to such sex crimes involving children.
As for sexual assault of a child, in Texas, that sex crime involves a child who was at least 14 but under the legal age of consent. That is a second-degree felony that can bring punishments of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $10,000.
If the child was under 14 years of age, the crime becomes worse: aggravated sexual assault of a child. That is a first-degree felony, which can bring a punishment of life in prison.
Who is the best Houston sex crime defense lawyer?
With such severe punishments possible for various sex crimes, you may be asking who is the best Houston sex crime defense lawyer or attorney to handle your case.
If you or a family member in the Houston area faces a claim or a charge of a sex crime, contact us at the award-winning Neal Davis Law Firm. We’ve been defending the legal rights of Texans for many years, and we stand ready to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
Persons living in Houston, The Woodlands, Conroe, Sugar Land or elsewhere in Harris County, Montgomery County or Fort Bend County can contact us today to arrange a confidential consultation for their case. A sex crime charge must be taken seriously. Let us help.