Is it illegal to take a bath with your 5 year old stepchild , if there is obviously no harm to the child?

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Is it illegal to take a bath with your 5 year old stepchild , if there is obviously no harm to the child?

Asked on November 18, 2012 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There is not a per se law against bathing with a child--- but it's a very quick way to get charged with indecency with a child, especially if the adult and the child are both unclothed.  Many criminal investigators view this type of behavior as "grooming" which involves getting the child comfortable with being naked in front of the adult...thereby preparing the child for later sexual acts.  Some sex offenders have used bathing as a means of getting a child used to certain "touches" by use of a wash cloth and then gradually work the child into touches without the cloth.  Even without any touching, an adult could potentially be charged with indecency with a child by exposure, which is a third degree felony in Texas.  Even though it is a lower level sexual charge, defendants are still required to register as sex offenders.  If an adult is investigated, charged, and arrested for indecency or any other sexual offense, the charge is extremely difficult to get expunged from a criminal history-- even when the charges are later dismissed. 

In addition to the criminal consequences, CPS will often intervene and remove the child from the home when an adult is bathing with a five year old.  The child will be interviewed and your spouse will more than likely have to agree to a parenting plan in order to get the child back-- this parenting plan could include requiring you to move out of the house.

Sex offenses are very high strung.  Even though any defendant is supposed to have a presumption of innocence, CPS and criminal investigators will often lean on the side of caution when they encounter a situation like this-- which means a higher level of stress for the accused.

Even if you are just having fun with your stepchild and it's not per se illegal, the act of bathing with a five year old step child is an incredibly risky act that is not recommended if you don't want to be put through the ringer with sex offender accusations.


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