Legislators push to redefine rape in California

DOWNEY -- After a Stanford student received just six months in jail for the rape of an unconscious woman, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) today called on Sacramento to pass legislation to redefine rape under California Penal Code 261. 

Garcia, who is vice-chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus, was joined by Assemblymember Susan Eggman in calling for the change. 

Stanford University student Brock Turner received just six months in jail for the rape of an unconscious woman, prompting California legislators to call for changes to the definition of rape.

Stanford University student Brock Turner received just six months in jail for the rape of an unconscious woman, prompting California legislators to call for changes to the definition of rape.

California law currently defines rape as “an act of sexual intercourse” under circumstances in which a victim is unconscious or incapable of giving consent, among other criteria.

Other types of sexual assault in the state of California—including forcible acts of sexual penetration by any foreign object—are defined and categorized as different crimes. Under this definition, the perpetrator in the Stanford case was only convicted of sexual assault, rather than rape.
 
The FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
 
This more inclusive definition has been adopted by all but a handful of states, including California.
 
“Sexual penetration without consent is rape. It is never invited, wanted or warranted. Rape is rape, period,” said Garcia. “We found a loophole in California’s criminal code and need to fix the law to send a strong message that we do not accept rape in California. AB 701 will ensure that all survivors of nonconsensual rape, regardless of the object used, will have equal access to justice.”
 
Eggman, who is chair of the LGBT Caucus, agreed.

"This is archaic definition reflects a culture that blames women for the crimes that are committed against them, and finds any excuse to be lenient with rapists," she said. "Forcing someone into sexual activity is rape, and the law should say that”.

Last week, Garcia called for the resignation of Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Stanford University student Brock Turner to six months in jail and three years' probation.