California Legislators Reconsider 'Arcane' Law That Discriminates Against Unmarried Rape Victims
California legislators are moving swiftly to close a legal loophole in our sexual assault laws that discriminates against unmarried victims.This week a state appeals court in Los Angeles ruled that a rape did not occur when a man in Cerritos crawled into a sleeping woman's bed, pretending to be her boyfriend. The court said that this exact situation would be called rape if the victim were married and she had been duped into believing the man was her husband. But the court said its hands were tied and urged the legislature to change the law.
On Friday, three California lawmakers did just that. Assemblymen Jimmy Gomez, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and state Sen. Noreen Evans all vowed to close the legal loophole that treats married and unmarried victims the same, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, said in a statement: "Californians are justifiably outraged by this court ruling, and it is important that the Legislature join together to close whatever loopholes may exist in the law and uphold justice for rape victims."
Gomez, D-Los Angeles, told The Bee that he asked the legislative counsel's office to draft new language, and he plans to reach out to law enforcement and women's groups for input. Evans, D-Santa Rosa, points out that the broader language could protect more than the unmarried heterosexual victim in this court case. A new loophole could also protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender victims who cannot marry their partner.
Attorney Gen. Kamala Harris called the law "arcane". She vowed to work with the legislature, saying "the evidence is clear that this case involved a nonconsensual assault that fits within the general understanding of what constitutes rape."
The law in question dates back to 1872 that wasn't updated when the state's spousal rape laws were overhauled in the 1990's.
Julio Morales was charged with sexually assaulting a woman in 2009, but the second appeals court ruling overturns that conviction. Morales is entitled to a new trial.
It's important to note that a jury could still find him guilty of rape under current California law because his victim claims that she was sleeping when he initiated intercourse, which means she would be unable to consent anyway. But the appeals court said it couldn't be sure whether the jury convicted him only because the victim appeared to be asleep—or whether it was his impersonation of her boyfriend that swayed the jury.
Speaking of outdated laws, California legally considers the father of Kim Kardashian's baby to be Kris Humphries, since technically the pair are still not divorced.