Governor signs measure to close rape loophole
AB 65 protects all rape victims regardless of marital status

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed AB 65, by Assemblymembers Katcho Achadjian (R- San Luis Obispo) and Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), clarifying that an attacker who coerces a victim into sexual activity by impersonating somebody else can be prosecuted for felony rape.
“Every victim deserves justice, regardless of their relationship status,” said Lowenthal, chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to make sure that California law will now provide just that.”
In 2011, Achadjian introduced AB 765, which would have extended the definition of felony rape to cases in which an attacker coerced a victim into sexual activity by impersonating a co-habitant (live-in boyfriend or girlfriend). AB 765 was inspired by a case in Santa Barbara County in which the accused broke into the home of a female victim who had been sleeping. The perpetrator instigated sexual activity with the victim, who believed that he was her boyfriend. Although the suspect was caught, the district attorney could not prosecute him for felony rape simply due to the fact that the victim lived with her boyfriend rather than with her husband. Despite receiving unanimous support in the State Assembly, AB 765 was held in the Senate Public Safety Committee.
Earlier this year, the State Court of Appeals overturned a rape conviction in a similar Los Angeles case. In its ruling the court stated that the victim had not been raped because she was unmarried and the attacker had impersonated her boyfriend rather than her husband.
“Today’s action by the governor concludes a nearly three-year effort to close this outdated and unconscionable loophole that has denied victims the justice they deserve,” Achadjian said. “While AB 65 cannot undo what was done to the victims in the Santa Barbara and Los Angeles County cases, it is my hope that knowing that future victims will be protected will bring them a small amount of comfort.”
AB 65 was jointly sponsored by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and the California District Attorneys Association, and it was supported by a broad coalition of public safety and victim’s rights organizations, according to Lowenthal’s office. In addition to Assemblymembers Achadjian and Lowenthal, the measure had been co-authored by 71 members of the Senate and Assembly, including Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.

Source: Bonnie Lowenthal’s office

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