It was a court ruling that shocked the country. The Oklahoma Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that oral sex is not considered a crime if the victim is unconscious from drinking. Lawmakers are working to close the loophole but they’re not happy about it.
The ruling was a unanimous decision by the state’s Criminal Appeals Court. It happened after a 17-year old boy was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year old girl in a Tulsa park after the two had been drinking. Justices made the ruling because they said there is nothing in state statute that says incapacitation due to excessive drinking is a crime.
Lawmakers disagree. They say the statute is clear.
“We all know no means no. We also know that silence means no.” said Representative John Paul Jordan (R) District 43 who is also an attorney, “And for the court to come back with a ruling that they did, first thought is like, what are they thinking? Because they ignored years of case law.”
Jordan and Representative Scott Biggs (R) District 51, are co-authoring a bill to close the loophole, although Biggs argues there really isn’t a loophole, just a misinterpretation of the current law.
“The court of appeals says we must use common sense. And that simply didn’t happen by the trial court of by the court (Of appeals),” said Biggs.
Biggs and Jordan have drafted legislation that they say defines sexual assault in crystal clear terms for the courts.
“It puts some definitions in there. Force. Consent. And it also helps define what sexual assaults are. We found out there’s not a comprehensive list,” said Biggs.
Jordan added, “And it’s sad that we actually have to start lining out these different situations instead of the court actually interpreting the statute correctly and understanding the intention is we’re not to have rape in Oklahoma.”
The bill is being fast tracked through the legislature because lawmakers fear the court ruling has set a dangerous precedent.