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State senators close old rape law loophole

State senators unanimously approved a bill on Thursday that would close a loophole in a California rape law that dates back to the 1870s.

Back then, a victim of a rape by impersonation had to be married.

Rape by impersonation was a term used when a man pretended to be the husband of his victim in order to initiate the sexual assault.

A Santa Barbara case of rape by impersonation got the legislative ball rolling.

Santa Barbara County prosecutors said they couldn’t file a rape charge against a man who broke into a woman’s home while she was sleeping. The woman consented to sex, thinking the assailant was her live-in boyfriend. She resisted when she realized he was a stranger. That’s when he fled.

Another case in Los Angeles led to a reversal in the conviction of Julio Morales who was accused of impersonating the boyfriend of an 18-year-old after a party. Defense attorneys said Morales thought the sex was consensual because the woman didn’t object to his advances until she saw him in daylight.

The bill “would close an archaic loophole,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, who carried the bill in the Senate.
The Senate approved the bill 38-0, sending it back to the Assembly where Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, introduced the bill.

If it does, District Attorney Joyce Dudley plans to be present for the final vote next week.

If it passes on Monday, it will just need Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

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