A California court of appeals said it had no choice but to overturn the conviction of a rapist who entered a sleeping woman’s bedroom and posed as her boyfriend before having sex with her because the woman is not married.
A California appeals court has overturned the rape conviction of a man because the female victim in the crime was not married at the time of the crime.
The Second Appellate District Court in Los Angeles cited an 1872 law that creates a loophole for rapes perpetrated on unmarried women by men pretending to be someone else, The LA Weekly reported, and remanded the case for retrial.
On Feb. 20, 2009, Julio Morales was initially convicted of entering the sleeping victim’s bedroom shortly after the woman’s boyfriend had left the apartment she shared with her brother. In the dark room, Morales, a friend of the victim’s brother, allegedly kissed the woman, who told police she believed the man was her boyfriend.
Upon waking, the victim told police she found Morales having sex with her, screamed, pushed him away, and called her actual boyfriend.
Later picked up by police hiding in nearby bushes, Morales admitted to police that the victim did not know his true identity, he contended that she was awake when they were having sex.
Morales was found guilty of the rape of an unconscious person and sentenced to a three-year term in state prison, but the appellate court overturned that conviction on the basis of the earlier law.
“A man enters the dark bedroom of an unmarried woman after seeing her boyfriend leave late at night, and has sexual intercourse with the woman while pretending to be the boyfriend,” Judge Thomas L. Willhite Jr. wrote in the court’s decision. “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.”
In the decision, Willhite said the court had little choice but to overturn the conviction, though urged the California legislature to reconsider the antiquated law.
The 19th-century statute also goes easy on spousal impersonators, stating, “any person who fraudulently obtains the consent of another to sexual relations escapes criminal liability (at least as a sex offender under title IX of the Penal Code), unless he (or she) … masquerades as the victim?s spouse.”
A date for Morales’ new trial has not yet been set.