Stanford Case Wasn't 'Rape,' but That Could Change

Lawmakers say current laws are too narrow
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2016 1:40 PM CDT
Stanford Case Wasn't 'Rape,' but That Could Change
In this March 30, 2015, photo, Brock Turner appears in the Palo Alto, Calif., branch of Santa Clara County Superior Court court for a status hearing.   (Gary Reyes/San Jose Mercury News via AP)

Brock Turner has become known as "the Stanford rapist" since he was convicted of sexual assault against a now 23-year-old woman and sentenced to six months in prison. But technically Turner, 22, wasn't convicted of rape: He was convicted of three counts of sexual assault—assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object—and California lawmakers now want to modify state laws so that all sexual penetration without consent is deemed rape, the Independent reports. This initiative comes via the California Legislative Women's Caucus, some of whose members believe the state's current definition of rape—"an act of sexual intercourse without consent involving penile penetration"—is too limiting.

How these lawmakers think California should define rape: the same way the FBI does, which is: "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 definition wouldn't allow for "wiggle room," wrote Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, the caucus's vice chair, in a blog post at Time. "Sexual penetration without consent is rape," she asserted. "It is never invited, wanted, or warranted. Rape is rape, period." She says that by tying the act of rape strictly to an act of "sexual intercourse" (meaning penile penetration), we're doing a disservice to victims. "Hopefully, being able to properly label the crime will ensure more survivors will see justice done." (How Stanford graduates expressed their outrage.)

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