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The Christian Science Monitor | If California Changes Definition of Rape, Will That Matter?

(06/23/2016) Two state legislators are pushing to redefine rape under California law following the sentencing of ex-Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner. But that might not have the effect they hope, some analysts say.

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“In the overwhelming majority of cases, the laws are already there,” says Jennifer Gentile Long, chief executive officer at AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s implementation [that’s the problem].”

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The new bill would adopt for California the Federal Bureau of Investigation definition of rape, which requires only that an offender penetrate a victim with any body part or object without the victim’s consent. Physical force is not necessary for the law to consider such an act as rape.

“Because the FBI definition does not require force, that can make a difference,” says Ms. Long at AEquitas.

But she and other legal experts note that the issue in the Turner case lay in the judge’s discretion – not the law itself.

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