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Oklahoma Stirs Up Rape Debate
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Appeals court

Summary: Oklahoma’s appeals court has shown through a shocking ruling that the state’s rape laws do not fully protect victims too intoxicated to consent.

To the astonishment of many, an Oklahoma court has ruled that when someone is completely unconscious, oral sex is not a crime. The ruling comes from the state’s criminal appeals court in a unanimous decision.

  
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Critics of the ruling are crying that the judicial system is victim-blaming and believing outdated notions of rape.  Victim’s advocated and legal experts are saying the ruling represents something even larger. They see a growing gap between the ideas of what constitutes rape and consent with the legal system.

Read Man Allegedly Rapes 12-Year-Old Girl, Whom Detective Then Describes as “Not Unwilling.” for another related story.

The original case involved a 16-year-old girl that was assaulted by a 17-year-old boy. The boy had offered to give her a ride home after they had been drinking with friends at a Tulsa park. The girl was heavily intoxicated and was carried into the boy’s car. Another boy in the car briefly testified that she was coming in and out of consciousness.

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When the girl was dropped off at her grandmother’s house, she was taken to a hospital where the blood alcohol test was at .34. She regained consciousness with staff performing a sexual assault exam. The results of the exam found DNA from the boy on her leg and around her mouth. He claimed that she consented to performing oral sex but she has no memories after leaving the park. Tulsa County prosecutors charged him with forcible oral sodomy.

Read U.S. Army General Charged With Forcible Sodomy and Adultery.



A trial judge dismissed the case and the appeals court backed up the dismissal saying the law could not be applied to a victim debilitated by alcohol. The decision read, “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. We will not, in order to justify prosecution of a person for an offense, enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language.”

Tulsa County District Attorney Benjamin Fu was left “completely gobsmacked” by the ruling. “The plain meaning of forcible oral sodomy, of using force, includes taking advantage of a victim who was too intoxicated to consent. 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,” Fu said. “And I don’t think the law was a loophole until the court decided it was.”

Oklahoma’s laws are to blame not the members of the appeals court. Dean of CUNY School of Law Michelle Anderson called the ruling “inappropriate” but the law “archaic.” Anderson continued, “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. It creates a huge loophole for sexual abuse that makes no sense.”

Another rape statute exists to protect victims of vaginal or anal intercourse that are too intoxicated to consent. This case involves an oral violation so it does not fall under this statutes protection.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/apr/27/oral-sex-rape-ruling-tulsa-oklahoma-alcohol-consent

Photo: americanbar.org



 

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