California Senate votes to end loophole in old rape law

The state Senate unanimously approved a bill on Thursday that would close a loophole in California law that resulted in a rape conviction being overturned because the woman was not married.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal in January reversed the conviction of Julio Morales for impersonating the boyfriend of the woman.

The court ruled that a state law dating to the 1870s specifies that assailants are guilty in such cases only if a woman is married and the perpetrator is pretending to be the spouse.

Defense attorneys said Morales thought the sex was consensual because the woman didn't object to his advances until she saw him in daylight.

AB65 would amend the state's rape definition so victims “will never again be denied justice,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who carried the bill in the Senate.

“This bill would close an archaic loophole in current law,” she said.

The Senate approved the bill 38-0, sending it back to the Assembly for a final vote.

The Assembly could take final action as early as Monday to send the measure to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature, said an aide to Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, who introduced the bill.

A similar bill, SB59, by Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, passed the Senate in April and also is awaiting a vote in the Assembly.

A previous bill by Achadjian that would have closed the loophole even before the appeals court decision was stalled in a Senate committee in 2011 because lawmakers feared it would add to crowding in state prisons.

That earlier bill was prompted after Santa Barbara County prosecutors said they couldn't file a rape charge against a man who broke into a woman's home while she was sleeping. The woman consented to sex because she thought the assailant was her live-in boyfriend.

She began resisting and he fled once she realized he was a stranger.

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