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What is the age of consent in Ontario? Are there exceptions?

The question of consent is primary in many sexual assault cases. Under Ontario law, sexual assault occurs whenever an individual sexually touches another person without that person's consent. In other words, the touching does not have to be extremely violent in order to lead to a sexual assault charge, nor must a sexual assault charge be predicated on sexual intercourse.

In Canada, the age of consent for sexual activity is 16, meaning that persons younger than 16 cannot legally consent to sex. However, there are exceptions. The Criminal Code of Canada recognizes that 14- and 15-year-olds may consent to sexual activity if the older person is no more than five years older than the minor, and if the minor is not in a relationship of authority, trust or dependency with the older person.

There is also an upward exception to the law. The age of consent is risen to 18 if the young person is exploited by the sexual activity. A charge of sexual exploitation could be brought against a person who is in a position of authority or trust over the young person. Other sexual exploitation cases involve pornography and prostitution involving someone younger than 18.

A 37-year-old woman in Ontario claims that, while in a massage session in Aurora, she was sexually touched without her consent. Now a 34-year-old massage therapist is facing a charge of sexual assault. An article in the Toronto Star doesn't indicate why the woman believes the touching was sexual in nature, though this matter will undoubtedly come up in court.

To learn more about sexual assault charges in Ontario, please visit Neuberger & Partners' overview of sex crimes and domestic assault.

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