A seven-year-old boy has been charged with rape in a case branded as "absurd" by the child's lawyer.
Authorities in New York state have stunned at least one leading defence attorney who argues he is too young to have known what he was doing.
Local news station WWNY reports much of the case is being kept secret for now.
They said State police are presently refusing to release detailed information, but said the unidentified child was charged with third-degree rape on March 23.
Troopers say the incident was reported on Thanksgiving.
The child was cited and released. The case will be handled in Family Court.
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Police say the investigation is continuing.
Meanwhile, the news channel spoke with a New York City attorney with a group that handles youth defence cases.
Anthony Martone, Queens Defenders, felony youth defence unit director, told the station: "Instinctually, it shouldn’t happen that a seven-year-old – I don’t think you even could really realise what you’re doing at seven years old.
"So I think it’s absurd to charge a seven-year-old with rape. They’d have to prove he actually physically committed this act, which to me almost seems to be an impossibility."
He said it appears the boy is being charged as a juvenile delinquent. A bill pending in Albany would change the minimum age for being charged as a juvenile delinquent from 7 to 12, said the channel.
If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 0845 30 30 900 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.
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