In California, Only Married Women Can Be Raped

Okay, not quite true — but apparently only married women can be raped by impersonation. That’s the ruling of a California state appeals court in overturning the conviction of a man who had sex with a sleeping woman who thought he was her boyfriend.

After a party, the victim and her boyfriend were in bed. The boyfriend had to be up early in the morning, so he went home and the woman fell asleep. Sometime during the night, Julio Morales climbed into bed with her and began having sex with her. She was facing away from him and assumed it was her boyfriend, until she saw his face and began to scream. He was convicted of rape but the appeals court just overturned that conviction because, under a 19th century law, only married women can be the victims of rape by impersonation:

A man enters the dark bedroom of an unmarried woman after seeing her boyfriend leave late at night, and has sexual intercourse with the woman while pretending to be the boyfriend. Has the man committed rape? Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape, the answer is no …If the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes.

The appeals court judge apparently didn’t want to render that verdict but felt his hands were tied by the text of the law and he urged the legislature to change the law. They damn well should. What this man did was rape and he should be in prison. I continue to be appalled by how unseriously this society takes the matter of rape.

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