Amid the endless stories about “Fast & Furious” actor Paul Walker since his shocking and untimely death Saturday, a possibly troubling story is beginning to emerge. The actor might have have been guilty of statutory rape under California law with his much younger girlfriend Jasmine Pilchard-Gosnell.
Please, Internet, put the pitchforks down for just a second. It doesn’t change the fact that Walker’s passing is tragic and heart-wrenching, but he still might have participated in an illegal relationship.
Most everyone has been in shock since his death. The actor was gearing up for the seventh “Fast & Furious” movie, he had just attended an event for his charity and then suddenly the car he was in engulfed in flames and ended his life. But as all the details now sink in, isn’t it a little strange that the 40-year-old would be dating someone who was 17 years younger? Sure, Pilchard-Gosnell is 23 now. But things start to get a bit creepy when it sinks in the couple had been together for seven years. That means the Hollywood hunk was 33 and dating a 16-year-old high school sophomore!
Walker has a daughter, Meadow Rain, who at 15 is only eight years younger than her father's girlfriend -- another unsettling fact.
The two were even rumored to have gotten engaged back in 2009, when she was 19 and he was 35, according to a Perez Hilton report, but stories about possible future nuptials between the lovers turned out to be false. A source had said about the couple’s age difference at the time, “Paul is very happy. Their age difference doesn't scare him. He knows she's the one."
Her family seemed to have no problem with the fact either.
Each U.S. state has its own laws on the age of consent, and in many it is 16. But in California, where Walker and his girlfriend were concerned, the legal age of consent is 18, unless the parties are married. Assuming their relationship was sexual and they were not just “dating,” Walker could have been found guilty of “unlawful sexual intercourse" were charges brought against him and he could have faced a few years in a county jail.
“Any person 21 years of age or older who commits the crime with a minor under 16 years of age is guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony,” the California Penal Code states. "A misdemeanor conviction is punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year. A felony conviction is punished by imprisonment in a county jail for two, three or four years, or in the state prison, depending on the person's criminal history.”
How did they even meet? What was a movie star in his thirties doing with flirting with a high school student? Many of these questions don’t yet have an answer and may never. While Walker’s “Fast & Furious” co-stars have been very public with expressing their grief, Pilchard-Gosnell has remained silent and it’s unlikely she’ll comment on their age gap.
The fact that Walker dated a 16-year-old, someone who at the time was half his age, doesn’t make his passing any less tragic, but it does bring up the question of why it was never really talked about before.
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