Assembly speaker introduces bill to close legal loophole in rape cases
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) has joined with a Republican lawmaker to introduce legislation that would close a legal loophole that led a state appeals court to overturn the rape conviction of a California man.
Citing a 19th century law, the Los Angeles-based 2nd District Court of Appeals ruled last week that a man who impersonates someone in order to have sexual intercourse may be guilty of rape only if the victim was married and the man was pretending to be her husband.
"This is an appalling failure of justice, and I am committed to acting swiftly to prevent a similar occurrence in the future," Perez said in a statement. "Like every Californian, I was deeply disturbed by this decision, and my colleagues and I will work on eliminating this glaring loophole in state law and protect Californians from such a gross violation."
The legislation, AB 65, would expand the definition of rape to include cases where a perpetrator impersonates a person's boyfriend or girlfriend.
Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) is the measure's co-author. He introduced similar legislation in 2011, but it died in the state Senate Public Safety Committee, where lawmakers have a longstanding policy of shelving bills that could exacerbate the state's prison overcrowding crisis.
"Today, Republicans and Democrats are joining together to make an important statement -- the Legislature will not stand for rapists getting away with their heinous acts because of an ancient provision in state law," Achadjian said in a statement. "The overwhelming response last week to an injustice in the law that I’ve been fighting to end for quite some time will give our proposal the strong momentum it needs to be enacted into law."
The legislation has the support of 13 state senators and 30 Assembly members.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
Photo: Assembly Speaker John A. Perez speaks on the Assembly floor during the legislative session in 2011. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press