California Rape Law Only for Married Women: Court

If attacker impersonates boyfriend, it's not rape: ruling
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2013 6:40 AM CST
Updated Jan 6, 2013 7:00 PM CST
California Rape Law Only for Married Women: Court
A California court says a rape law doesn't apply to unmarried women.   (Shutterstock)

If an attacker has sex with a California woman by pretending to be her husband, that's rape. But if she's not married and he's impersonating her boyfriend, it's a different story, according to a state appeals court. Judges unanimously overturned the conviction of Julio Morales, who had sex with a woman after her boyfriend left her bedroom late one night in February 2009. When she realized the man was not her boyfriend, she screamed and fought him, the Los Angeles Times reports. But the appeals court found that, because of the wording of an 1872 law, his behavior may not have been grounds for a rape conviction:

  • "Has the man committed rape? Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape, the answer is no, even though, if the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes," the court opinion said, noting that judges made the decision "reluctantly."
Prosecutors had argued two theories, that Morales tricked the victim and that sex with a sleeping person is defined as rape by law. It was unclear which theory the jury based its conviction on, and a new conviction would have to be based on Morales knowingly having sex with a sleeping person, the Times notes. A new trial has been ordered, USA Today reports. (More California stories.)

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