By Peter J. Smith

LONDON, April 20, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Mandy Smith, the former child-lover and later wife of Rolling Stone bassist Bill Wyman, believes that the age of consent should be raised to 18 in order to protect young girls, who are emotionally vulnerable when it comes to sexual relationships at that age. In an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail, Smith said that she had slept with the much older Wyman when she was 14 years old, beginning a relationship that stole away a childhood she “could never get back.”

Smith, 39, revealed to the Mail that she has come a long way from being the Wild Child on London’s celebrity scene in the 1980s to a woman who is now single, celibate, and living out a revived Catholic faith, mentoring young girls, and involving herself in charitable work.

But the experience of her child sexual relationship with Rolling Stone Wyman, 34 years her senior, taught her that teenage girls are not emotionally equipped for sex by the age of 16.

“It’s not about being physically mature. It’s emotional maturity that matters,” Smith told the Mail.

“I don’t think most 16-year-olds are ready. I think the age of consent should be raised to 18 at a minimum, and some girls aren’t even ready then,” she said. “People will find that odd coming from me. But I think I do know what I’m talking about here. You are still a child – even at 16.”

“You can never get that part of your life, your childhood, back. I never could.”

Smith revealed that her father had been absent in her family’s life since she was three, and her mother was perennially ill around the time she met Wyman. The rocker had met her at a club where Smith and her sister Nicola, both teenagers, would party and try to dress and act twice their age.

Smith said she saw Wyman in part as filling the void of a father figure in her life. They began dating when she was 13, and revealed publicly for the first time to the Mail that Wyman had criminal intercourse with her when she was 14. When Smith reached the age of consent at 16, their relationship became public; by 18 she and Wyman married, and two years later the relationship ended in a bitter divorce.

Looking back on her past, she said that she believed Wyman never “would have made a move if my dad had been around.”

But her biggest concern is for teenage girls she sees today being caught up in a highly sexualized culture and its expectations.

“My concern is that everything – clothes, films, talk – is so sexualised. The girls I talk to are under pressure to be a certain way,” said Smith. “They think they should be having sex, living a certain life. I try to say to them: ‘Hold on. You don’t have to do this.’”

Smith is the mother of nine-year-old son, Max, from a brief relationship with model Ian Mosby. She says she rediscovered her faith in 2005 and tells the Mail that “God is the only man in my life now.”

“The great thing about the Church is that you can go back. It's never too late,” she said, adding that it was a note from one of the nuns who taught her in school that helped bring her back.

“She said that Jesus does not look at mistakes I had made, or the times I had ignored him. Until then, I'd felt a terrible guilt about the life I'd led,” added Smith. “I realised that there was another way.”

Parliament first established the age of consent in the UK at 13 years in 1875 in response to concerns that young girls were being exploited for prostitution. The age of consent was amended to 16 years in 1885 under the Criminal Amendment Act.

But in the United Kingdom recently the tendency has been to lower the age of consent. A furor erupted two years ago when Parliament passed a bill requiring Northern Ireland to lower its age of consent from 17 years to 16 years under the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008, to be in conformity with the rest of the kingdom.

Members of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly accused London of acting with "contempt for democracy" by pushing through the measure despite their opposition. MLAs warned that the change would encourage sexual predators from the Republic of Ireland, where the age of consent remains at 17, to go north in search of younger victims.

Belfast's Rape Crisis Centre also objected to the change, saying the new law would make it more difficult for them to protect vulnerable girls from sexual predators.


See related coverage by LifeSiteNews.com:

British Government Bill to Impose Lower Age of Consent in Northern Ireland
http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/may/08050107.html