I was approached for a date by a man who seemed to me as though he might be below 18. My gut instinct was not to accept the date, so to salve the pain of rejection, I tried to explain why we don’t see under 18. He became very angry and said he was disabled, but judging by the way he sounded, I believe it was a mental disability rather than a physical one. It feels kinda shitty to reject him for that, but if I saw him I wouldn’t feel right. Are the consent issues with a mentally disabled adult the same as when a party is underage?
Whether he was under 18 or a mentally disabled adult, you were probably right to reject the date. Our culture is, alas, in the midst of a new Victorian Era, in which there is tremendous cultural anxiety about sex. And while it used to be not at all unusual for a young man in his late teens to be initiated by a sex worker, now that would be viewed as “sexual abuse” even if he’s above the local age of consent, due to the magical corrupting power of money. If his parents should find out and extract your contact information from him, you could be in very hot water indeed. Even if he could prove to you that he’s over 18, you’d have to carefully examine the circumstances: does he lives alone and manage his own finances, etc? If so, it would probably be fine, though obviously you’d have to decide for yourself whether you’re comfortable dealing with the special difficulties such a client might present. But if he lives at home and/or has some kind of guardian, he’d be considered a “vulnerable adult”, and you could potentially be viewed by the law as “exploiting” him just as though he were under 18. While it’s true that we’re all viewed as criminals by US law anyhow, it’s not really a good idea to turn a misdemeanor into a felony, nor to compound that felony. And when sex is involved, the mass hysteria that currently grips our culture will make sure that your life is completely destroyed if you’re found out. It’s sad if you can’t help someone who might be desperately in need of human contact, but there are some things that are just too risky, and I think this is one of them.