SACRAMENTO Legislation that would expand the definition of rape to include a suspect who coerces sexual activity by posing as a victim's partner passed a key Assembly policy committee on Tuesday.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Assembly Bill 65, which is modeled after similar legislation in Idaho. The bill is a response to the recent Second District ruling in People v. Morales, in which the state appellate court "reluctantly" overturned a man's rape conviction on the grounds that he impersonated a woman's boyfriend, not her husband. California's current rape law covers impersonators, but only those who act as spouses.
"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," the bill's co-author, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo said in a prepared statement. "It's time that our laws are updated to reflect the realities of today's world."
In the Morales case, a woman's boyfriend had left and she had fallen asleep before Julio Morales entered her darkened bedroom and began having sex with her. The justices noted that if she was asleep, then the act would constitute rape. But because prosecutors also accused Morales of trickery, and the jury was instructed on it, the court said it had no choice but to vacate the conviction. The court also noted that the loophole had been identified 30 years ago, yet never fixed by lawmakers.
AB 65 is similar to another bill introduced in the state Senate, SB 59. That piece of legislation would apply the expanded coercion-by-impersonation definition to all sex crimes, not just rape.