Rape law loophole closer to change

State Assembly voted unanimously for AB 65

Rape law loophole closer to change

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A loophole in California's rape law if just about to close.

The vote in the State Assembly was unanimous Monday. In a 75 to 0 vote, Assembly Bill 65 is one step closer to changing a section of the rape law dating back to 1872.

"Well, it's frustrating to know that this was an antiquated law that was still in the books that hadn't been addressed by the legislature. And now, thankfully, they are addressing it," said Elsa Granados, executive director of the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.

Her attention was focused on the state capitol on Monday, where the Senate and now Assembly voted to change the rape law.

The bill now goes to the governor's desk for his signature.

"AB 65 will update an existing law to ensure justice for all victims, regardless of their relationship status," said Assembly member Katcho Achadjian.

Under the current law, if a victim is raped and the attacker pretends to be someone else, the rapist is only convicted if she is a married woman.

A Santa Barbara case helped spur all of the action at the capitol. A local woman thought it was her boyfriend crawling into bed with her. It wasn't him but an intruder. He beat the rape charge because he was impersonating her boyfriend and she wasn't married.

"AB 65 makes it clear that rape is rape, and it will not be tolerated," said Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal.

Granados and her organization saw 500 rape victims last year just in south Santa Barbara County.

"As with rape in general, we don't know how often it occurs because rape is highly underreported," said Granados.

She hopes these steps will get more people to come forward.

"What happens is when survivors of rape see that something is moving forward in a way that suggests further justice, then they are encouraged to move forward, even if in their situation it isn't the same statute that would be used," said Granados.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley was in Sacramento for the vote. She held a photo of the local victim while in the Assembly chambers.

For more information on AB 65, click here.

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