A California appeals court has overturned the rape conviction of a man, Julio Morales, accused of the rape of a woman in 2009, for which he was sentenced to three years in a California state prison.
The woman he had been accused of raping, Morales, and her boyfriend had attended a party together earlier that evening where they had all been drinking. All three ended up going home together afterwards. Morales was accused of “pretending” to be the 18 year old woman’s boyfriend by sneaking into her bedroom that evening, after her boyfriend had left the room, and had sex with her, even though Morales claims she knew it was him.
Citing an obscure California state law from 1872, the appeals court panel ruled that “an impersonator who tricks someone into having sex with him can only be found guilty of rape if he is pretending to be a married woman’s husband.”*
“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,” Judge Thomas L. Willhite Jr. wrote in the court’s decision.
During the trial, the jury was instructed that “[a] woman is unconscious of the nature of the act if she is unconscious or asleep or not aware that the act is occurring or not aware of the essential characteristics of the act because the perpetrator tricked, lied to, or concealed information from her.”*
The court found that the woman had indeed consented, even though she was said to have been tricked–and even though Morales claimed he verbally told her who he was, which appears to have been ignored and buried even in most news stories. Despite Morales’ claims he didn’t try to deceive her, they found that she was deceived anyway–and that had she been married, the law would define such a deception as rape.
The court ruled unanimously to send the case back for a retrial.
“We reluctantly hold that a person who accomplishes sexual intercourse by impersonating someone other than a married victim’s spouse is not guilty of the crime of rape of an unconscious person,” Willhite wrote.
Pay particular attention to the words being used here. Willhite wrote that she was unconscious. If she were indeed unconscious, she would not have been able to consent, yet the court had indeed found her capable of consenting. (All while apparently still ignoring Morales’ own claim that he verbally spoke to her and he thought she knew who he was.) This implies that she was not unconscious at the time that Morales was said to have “tricked” and “raped” her. The other reason to seriously doubt the claim of her being unconscious at the time, is that it was not until
A beam of light from a window illuminated his face, that the woman realized she was not having sex with her boyfriend, but with Morales, according to prosecutors.
This admission from the purported “victim” proves that she was not unconscious at the time that sexual intercourse was taking place. One cannot be unconscious and then claim to have been tricked. To be tricked into something, one has to be conscious in order to be deceived or outwitted by someone. The whole claim that she was unconscious at the time is ridiculous and falls flat on its face when you look at the evidence presented.
And still apparently no one cares about Morales’ claim that he told her who he was.
Now, I know some people are going to accuse me of being a victim-blamer. And that is their right. But the facts presented just do not add up. Even if she had been married at the time the facts would still not add up. The law that allowed Morales’ case to be overturned is not the problem here. The problem is that Morales would still be rotting in jail as a rapist if she had been married because then the facts would not have mattered. The only thing that would have mattered was that she felt she had been raped, and her word was good enough. No presumption of innocence for him apparently.
The 1872 law has indeed shown a flaw in the system, however it is not the flaw that is palatable to lawmakers and judges. The 1872 law points out, clearly, that facts are routinely ignored in cases where a woman accuses a man of rape. If the facts had been solid, and had proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Morales was indeed guilty of rape, despite even his claims that he spoke to her and he thought she knew who he was, then the 1872 law would not have even mattered in this case. But there is doubt, and the facts do not add up. Which is why the 1872 law has come up in this case.
The reality is, if we grant Morales even a reasonable doubt, she is either a complete moron for not knowing who her boyfriend is when in a dark room and not able to recognize his voice, was too drunk to know or care who her boyfriend was–or that she changed her mind while having sex with Morales. None of these instances amount to rape. In fact, she consented to having sex with Morales, according to her own admission, up until a light hit his face. Is the guy now responsible for her being a complete moron? And is there no presumption of innocence for him for claiming he talked to her before the light hit his face?
The three California appeals court justices found that prosecutors had presented two theories at the time of Morales’ trial. One was the impersonator theory, which the appeals court threw out. Prosecutors also suggested Morales had raped a “sleeping woman”. When the case is up for re-trial, prosecutors will have only that theory to rely on.
The California appeals court panel suggested that their hands were tied due to the 1872 law and asked California lawmakers to “correct the incongruity that exists when a man may commit rape … when impersonating a husband, but not when impersonating a boyfriend.”
Justice Willhite said the 1872 California law had not been consistently applied. A law similar to the 1872 California law led to an acquittal in Iowa in 2010. In 2011, Iowa’s state legislature amended the law after that 2010 acquittal to cover all women, regardless of their being married or not.
Laws like the 1872 California Law have brought to light the great potential for corruption and disregard for facts by lawmakers and the courts when a man is accused of rape. Call me a victim blamer, but facts do matter to me. And the fact is her story does not hold up under scrutiny. A person is either unconscious, or conscious. She could not have been both.