A bill introduced by San Luis Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian to close an 1872 loophole concerning rape has unanimously passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
If adopted, the bill will do away with the loophole and allow an attacker who rapes someone by impersonating someone else to be prosecuted for felony rape.
“There was a case in Santa Barbara County, and another in Los Angeles County, where the woman was raped twice — once by the rapist, and then by this loophole," said Achadjian.
The bill 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, he couldn’t be prosecuted for felony rape due to the fact that the victim lived with her boyfriend rather than with her husband. The provision of Penal Code 261 applies when a “person submits under the belief that the person committing the act is the victim’s spouse, and this belief is induced by any artifice, pretense or concealment practiced by the accused.”
Achadjian’s bill would expand the penal code definition to include cohabitants.
“Coercing someone into sexual activity by impersonating someone else is rape regardless of whether the victim is single, married, in a domestic partnership, engaged or dating. It’s time that our laws are updated to reflect the realities of today’s world,” Achadjian said after the committee’s Tuesday vote.
“I am extremely grateful to the committee for once again doing the right thing by approving this measure and urge the Senate Public Safety to follow suit,” he added.
Achadjian entered a similar bill, AB 765, in 2011.
Despite receiving unanimous support in the Assembly, the bill was held up in the Senate Public Safety Committee.