Forced Oral Sex Is Not Rape If Victim Is Unconscious From Alcohol – Anti Media News

This Ruling is causing widespread condemnation from critics saying the judicial system was engaged in victim-blaming and believing outdated, false notions about rape.

An Oklahoma court shocked prosecutors and anti-rape activists when it ruled state law does not criminalize oral rape if the victim is unconscious.

The decision was unanimous by the state’s criminal appeals court, but legal experts and victims’ advocates believe this ruling is only a symptom of a much bigger problem: the troubling gaps that still exist between the nation’s laws and evolving ideas about rape and consent.

Raw Story describes the details of the case:

The case involved allegations that a 17-year-old boy assaulted a girl, 16, after volunteering to give her a ride home. The two had been drinking in a Tulsa park with a group of friends when it became clear that the girl was badly intoxicated. Witnesses recalled that she had to be carried into the defendant’s car. Another boy, who briefly rode in the car, recalled her coming in and out of consciousness.

The boy later brought the girl to her grandmother’s house. Still unconscious, the girl was taken to a hospital, where a test put her blood alcohol content above .34. She awoke as staff were conducting a sexual assault examination.

Tests would later confirm that the young man’s DNA was found on the back of her leg and around her mouth. The boy claimed to investigators that the girl had consented to performing oral sex. The girl said she didn’t have any memories after leaving the park. Tulsa County prosecutors charged the young man with forcible oral sodomy.

But the trial judge dismissed the case. And the appeals court ruling, on 24 March, affirmed that prosecutors could not apply the law to a victim who was incapacitated by alcohol.

“Forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation,” the decision read. Its reasoning, the court said, was that the statute listed several circumstances that constitute force, and yet was silent on incapacitation due to the victim drinking alcohol. “We will not, in order to justify prosecution of a person for an offense, enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language.”

Benjamin Fu, the Tulsa County district attorney leading the case, could not believe the ruling on the case.

“The plain meaning of forcible oral sodomy, of using force, includes taking advantage of a victim who was too intoxicated to consent,” Fu said. “I don’t believe that anybody, until that day, believed that the state of the law was that this kind of conduct was ambiguous, much less legal. And I don’t think the law was a loophole until the court decided it was. To focus on why the victim was unable to consent puts the victim at fault.”

Some legal experts refused to blame the court, saying instead that the ruling should be a wake-up call for legislators to update Oklahoma’s laws.

Michelle Anderson, the dean of the CUNY School of Law who has written extensively about rape law, called the ruling “appropriate” but the law “archaic”.

“This is a call for the legislature to change the statute, which is entirely out of step with what other states have done in this area and what Oklahoma should do,” she said. “It creates a huge loophole for sexual abuse that makes no sense,” she said.

Oklahoma has a separate rape statute that protects victims who were too intoxicated to consent to vaginal or anal intercourse, but it does not extend to oral rape.

Jennifer Gentile Long, who leads a group,  AEquitas, that guides prosecutors in sexual and domestic violence cases said, “there are still gaps in the ways laws are written that allow some cases to fall through the cracks. This case seems to be one of them,” because it did not involve vaginal or anal rape.

In the wake of the outrage after the ruling, Fu vowed to push for lawmakers to update the code. Many states have engaged in a broad overhaul of their rape laws in recent years, Anderson said, part of a movement to fall in line with the modern understanding of rape.

“There is a recognition that social mores have changed, that the law should now try to protect sexual autonomy as opposed to sexual morality,” she said. “Often, the law changes after an outcry over unpopular court rulings.”

Fu said other defendants are making the same argument in other parts of Oklahoma to avoid charges.

The defendant’s attorney, Shannon McMurray, said that prosecutors were clearly wrong to charge the young man with forcible sodomy, and not a lesser crime of unwanted touching. “There was absolutely no evidence of force or him doing anything to make this girl give him oral sex,” McMurray said, “other than she was too intoxicated to consent.”

Months after this ruling, Oklahoma lawmakers finally closed the loophole and amended the law. Now, sex crimes in the state will not go unpunished when the victim is unconscious or intoxicated.

Please share this article and help get the word out so people can look into laws in their area to see if they are protected.

(Article By Jeremiah Jones)

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