by Dennis Romero / laweekly.com
An Eastside state legislator was quick to propose fixing an 1872 rape law that got a defendant a new trial for having sex with a woman he duped into believing he was her boyfriend.
California’s Second District Appeals Court yesterday said L.A.-area suspect Julio Morales should get a new trial because the old law does not specifically protect unmarried women from rapists who impersonate their boyfriends. The letter of the law only protects married women from people who would impersonate a husband in order to get sex:
News of the ruling yesterday was a sensation. Folks couldn’t believe that married woman could be protected by such “rape” under the law while an unmarried one couldn’t.
The court urged the legislature to fix the law’s language.
Jimmy Gomez, who represents the Eastside and neighborhoods such as Echo Park and Silver Lake, today said he would “vow” to fix the “archaic” law.
A statement from his office:
The reversal of the rape charge is based on a seemingly-archaic law in the California penal code that states: any person who fraudulently obtains the consent of another to sexual relations escapes criminal liability unless the attacker masquerades as the victim’s spouse…. After hearing of the legal travesty that could allow a rapist to walk free, Assemblymember Gomez vowed to fight for a change in the law that would assure that never again will a rapist be able to walk away from their crime.
Prosecutors in the 2009 case allege that Morales climbed into bed with an 18-year-old who had been drinking and fell asleep at a house party.
He started to have sex with her and when she came to she thought he was her boyfriend, according to authorities. At one point she said she realized he was not her boyfriend and tried to push him off but he resisted. He ultimately left.
A first trial ended in a hung jury. A second ended with a conviction. Morales already served his sentence — 3 years — for the rape.
The appeals court cited the letter of the law, which states that rape in such a circumstance is limited to a situation …
… [w]here she submits, under the belief that the person committing the act is her husband, and this belief is induced by any artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the accused, with intent to induce such belief.