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July 30, 1997


Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, Criminal Division, No. 1995-1122. Before BROWN, J.

Before: Tamilia, J., Hudock, J., and Cercone, P.j.e. Hudock, J., concurs in the result. Opinion BY Tamilia, J.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tamilia


Filed July 30, 1997

Appellant, James Decker, takes this appeal from the judgment of sentence of three (3) to twenty-three and one-half (23-1/2) months' imprisonment entered on December 21, 1995 following his conviction of corruption of minors *fn1 in a nonjury trial.

The 37-year old appellant was charged with corruption of minors after having sexual intercourse with a 15-year old girl. Appellant claims the evidence at trial was insufficient to support a guilty verdict because the intercourse was consensual and was the sole basis for the corruption charge. He further claims that at the time of the incident, our Legislature had not criminalized the exact conduct in which he engaged. *fn2 In short, appellant contends that underlying criminal activity must be the requisite upon which a corruption of minors charge is placed. In pertinent part, the applicable statute reads:

§ 6301. Corruption of minors

(a) Offense defined.-- Whoever, being of the age of 18 years and upwards, by any act corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any minor less than 18 years of age, ... is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

This Court's standard of review of a nonjury trial is to determine whether the findings of the trial court are supported by competent evidence and whether the trial Judge committed error in the application of law. Stonehedge Square Ltd. Partnership v. Movie Merchants, Inc., 454 Pa. Super. 468, 685 A.2d 1019 (1996).

As to appellant's first contention that he cannot be prosecuted under the statute because the sexual intercourse was consensual and thus there was no underlying criminal activity, consent is not an element in a corruption of minors charge. Commonwealth v. Miller, 441 Pa. Super. 320, 657 A.2d 946 (1995). Furthermore, while it is true that generally a corruption of minors charge accompanies a more serious charge such as involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory rape, indecent assault, etc., nowhere in the statute is there a requirement of such underlying criminal activity, nor will one find a prohibition against a charge of corruption of minors standing alone. Moreover, the statute states "by any act" not "by any criminal act.". The fact that a corruption of minors charge is generally coupled with additional underlying criminal activity is more a reflection of the usual application of the statute than it is legal precedent. We believe that if our legislators intended to require some underlying criminal activity as the basis for a corruption of minors charge, they would have written it into the statute.

Appellant also contends that according to Commonwealth v. Meszaros, 194 Pa. Super. 462, , 168 A.2d 781, 782 (1961), corruption must amount to "delinquent conduct" which is defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 6302, Definitions, as criminal activity. (Appellant's brief at 12.) Appellant's argument fails essentially because "delinquent conduct" under Meszaros included status offenses such as truancy, running away and incorrigibility as well as criminal conduct because the definition of "Delinquent act", 42 Pa.C.S. § 6302, was amended in 1976, Act of July 9, P.L. 586, No. 142, to exclude those matters and limit delinquent conduct to crimes under the law of this Commonwealth, another state, federal law or local ordinance. While the ruling in Meszaros is correct, applying it for authority as to what constitutes delinquency is not. In Commonwealth v. Smith,238 Pa. Super. 422, 357 A.2d 583 (1976), this Court, in following Meszaros, found that sexual behavior was the corrupting activity to be prevented. This is no less true today since it is common knowledge that the majority of young females who become pregnant and produce children out of wedlock, undergo abortions or contract aids and other sexually transmitted diseases are impregnated by adult males. If this does not serve to require society to restrain such behavior as committed here, nothing will. Furthermore, 18 Pa.C.S. § 6301(b), Adjudication of delinquency unnecessary, provides "[a] conviction under the provision of this Act may be had whether or not the jurisdiction of any juvenile court has attached or shall thereafter attach to such minor or whether or not such minor has been adjudicated a delinquent or shall thereafter be adjudicated a delinquent."

There are a number of cases in which our Court has sustained a conviction for corruption of minors after the defendant had been acquitted of indecent assault. *fn3 We agree with the trial Judge that "it would seem strange indeed to hold that while a defendant can be convicted of the crime of Corruption of Minors standing alone, the same defendant cannot be charged with the crime of Corruption of Minors standing alone." (Slip Op., Brown, Jr., P.J., 10/16/95, pp. 2-3.)

In deciding what conduct can be said to corrupt the morals of a minor, "'the common sense of the community, as well as the sense of decency, propriety and the morality which most people entertain is sufficient to apply the statute to each particular case, and to individuate what particular conduct is rendered criminal by it.'" Commonwealth v. Pankraz, 382 Pa. Super. 116, , 554 A.2d 974, 977 (1989), quoting Commonwealth v. Randall, 183 Pa. Super. 603, 133 A.2d 276 (1957), cert. denied, 355 U.S. 954, 2 L. Ed. 2d 530, 78 S. Ct. 539 (1958). Furthermore,

Corruption of a minor can involve conduct towards a child in an unlimited number of ways. The purpose of such statutes is basically protective in nature. These statutes are designed to cover a broad range of conduct in order to safeguard the welfare and security of our children. Because of the diverse types of conduct that must be proscribed, such statutes must be drawn broadly. It ...

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