H-CENTRAL COAST

Jan 10, 2013 12:06 AM by Nikki Ibarra

Local assemblyman, district attorney urge for change in state law

Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley are on a mission to change what they call, a loophole, in a California law that has been on the books for more than a century.

The law states a person who gets consent to have sex by pretending to be someone else is only guilty of rape if the victim is married and the perpetrator is pretending to be the spouse.

KSBY's Nikki Ibarra explains how local leaders got involved.

District Attorney Joyce Dudley reviewed a different case in 2010, where she was unable to prosecute a woman.

The case involved a man who broke into a woman's house in Santa Barbara while she was sleeping and started to have sex with her. The woman thought it was her boyfriend but it was a complete stranger.

The woman reported it to police but under the current law, that is not a case of rape.

A similar situation happened in Los Angeles; only this time it went to trial. But what happened in the Los Angeles trial is why people are talking about this law once again.

"It is merely a legal loophole for our legislatures but it's a gaping hole in the heart of a future rape victim. This will make all the difference in the world to that person and their loved ones and it's the right thing to do for justice," said Dudley.

A legal loophole, which Dudley said, needs to be changed immediately. "I became a lawyer to fight for people who have been victimized. I didn't become a lawyer or the district attorney in order to continue that victimization," added Dudley.

In the ruling in the Los Angeles case, the jury found Julio Morales guilty. But the case was reversed on appeal Friday based on a law that's more than 100 years old.

"It sends a terrible message for many different reasons. First of all, it sends a message to potential rapists which is the most dangerous message," said Dudley.

Assemblyman Achadjian will again introduce a bill urging a change in the law.

Ann McCarty works with the North County Rape Crisis and Child Protection Service. McCarty believes the current law is not aimed at protecting rape victims but more so on putting the blame on them.

"We want people to be believed. We want people to get the support they need," said McCarty.

The first bill Achadjian introduced was not passed because of prison overcrowding issues.

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