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Evans Rape by Fraud bill goes to Governor for approval

SACRAMENTO – The final bill to close a loophole in California’s rape law that caused an appellate court to overturn a sexual assault conviction has passed out of the Assembly today with a 74-0 vote on urgency.  The bill, SB 59, will return to the Senate Monday for a procedural vote and then move to the Governor’s desk with its companion bill, AB 65, for consideration. SB 59 will close the legal loophole specific to rape under false pretenses or rape by fraud by updating the penal code.  If passed, the legislation would go into effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature.

Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) introduced SB 59 at the beginning of the 2013 legislative session following the outcome of the overturned rape conviction in People v. Morales.

“Rape is a violent crime that should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Senator Evans.  “Justice cannot be conditioned on the victim’s marital status.” 

Under an 1870’s provision that upheld the rights of a married victim, but not those of others, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in January overturned the rape conviction of Julio Morales.  In 2009 Morales impersonated his female victim’s boyfriend in order to have sex with her while she was sleeping.  Because jury instruction was unclear and the current law only allows someone to be convicted of rape for impersonating a spouse, but is silent about the impersonation of other intimate partners, the conviction was overturned on the technicality.

SB 59 updates the arcane language contained in various sections of the California Penal Code by substituting and defining the new term of “someone known to the victim other than the accused” in the place of the term “spouse”. Doing so would expand the definition to include single individuals, domestic partners and individuals currently excluded by the narrow use of the term “spouse”. This bill creates equality within the law for all victims.

“This is about equality in the law.  This is about justice for all.  And it’s past time this legislative body correct an arcane law that could let a rapist go free on an outdated statute that provides neither, ” concluded Evans.