California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation yesterday that closes a loophole in the state’s law regarding rape, now making an aggressor who impersonates someone else in order to force a victim into having sex eligible for prosecution.
While this issue may seem to be a no-brainer, the legislation comes after a man’s rape conviction was overturned because of a loophole stating that, essentially, a victim had to be married for it to be considered rape.
The victim, who was 18 at the time of the attack, says that her boyfriend had just left a dark room when a man took notice, entered the room, and began to force sex upon the woman. The victim believed that the man was her boyfriend until a ray of light shined on his face, at which point she began to scream and resist. The attack happened in Los Angeles County.
The loophole, which dates back to the 1870s, says that if the attacker impersonates a woman’s husband to have sex with her, then it is considered rape, but if the woman is not married, the man cannot be charged.
Due to the outdated loophole in the law, the State Court of Appeals had no choice but to overturn the conviction, but the judge simultaneously ordered a retrial while urging lawmakers to close the loophole immediately.
Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal co-authored the bill.
“Today’s action by the governor concludes a nearly three-year effort to close this outdated and unconscionable loophole that has denied victims the justice that they deserve,” said Achadjian.
Lowenthal, who is also the chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, added, “Every victim deserves justice, regardless of their relationship status.”
Achadjian has been working on the bill since 2011, after a similar attack happened in his district where the loophole was used. The bill is finally been written into law this week.
“While Assembly Bill 65 cannot undo what was done to the victims in the Santa Barbara and Los Angeles County cases,” said the Assemblyman, “it is my hope that knowing that future victims will be protected will bring them a small amount of comfort.”