The logic is baffling.
Oklahoma State Capital (Wikicommons)
Go home Oklahoma, you’re drunk. A bizarre court ruling in the state says that forced oral sex cannot be prosecuted if the sexual assault victim passed out from drinking.
The bizarre ruling stems from a case involving a 17-year-old boy who allegedly had oral sex with a 16-year-old girl without first obtaining consent. The Guardian explains in their piece:
“The two had been drinking in a Tulsa park with a group of friends when it became clear that the girl was badly intoxicated. Witnesses recalled that she had to be carried into the defendant’s car. Another boy, who briefly rode in the car, recalled her coming in and out of consciousness.”
The girl was reportedly so intoxicated that she only woke up later in a hospital when medical authorities were performing a sexual assault investigation on her. Investigators obtained DNA evidence and the boy even admitted to the act but claimed the girl had given consent before passing out. However, she said she has no memories after leaving a park with a group of friends earlier in the evening.
The boy’s attorney argued that there was “no evidence” that he assaulted the girl, under the law’s current definition. And in their court ruling, a trial judge agreed. After choosing to dismiss the case he wrote:
“Forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation … We will not, in order to justify prosecution of a person for an offense, enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language.”
Essentially, the judge said that they could not prosecute the boy because the law did not specifically say that forcing oral sex on an unconscious person is a crime. While not endorsing the incident, the dismissal essentially legalizes a form of sexual assault by omission. The district attorney in the case blasted the “loophole” decision and CUNY school of law dean Michelle Anderson said it should spur the state legislature into action to ensure such cases don’t happen again.
“This is a call for the legislature to change the statute, which is entirely out of step with what other states have done in this area and what Oklahoma should do,” Anderson told the Guardian. “It creates a huge loophole for sexual abuse that makes no sense.” However, as Slate notes, the state legislature’s track record on health issues isn’t stellar either, meaning that only a groundswell of public outrage on the issue is likely to move them into action.