Oklahoma Lawmaker Proposes Bill That Could Redefine Rape

Monday, January 21st 2013, 6:49 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

The definition of rape in Oklahoma could be changing if some lawmakers get their way.

Proposed legislation would make it illegal for church employees or volunteers to have sex with church members under the age of 20.

"The child advocacy community has identified churches and places of worship as areas where predators tend to seek employment to gain easy access to adolescents," said State Senator AJ Griffin, who introduced Senate Bill 175. "It's also an area where parents tend to be a little more trusting."

Senator Griffin says her work as a child advocate with victims of sexual assault prompted her to push for this expanded legislation.

"A couple of personnel experiences working with some young women who had been victims of individuals with their church," she told News 9.

State Rep. Hoskin has been trying to get a similar bill passed through the house for the past three years. His legislation deals specifically with those in a "ministerial role."

But Attorney David Slane is challenging a similar part of the current law that pertains to teachers. He says this one will likely face the same questions, especially the Senate version.

"Any person who works at a church or volunteers at a church covers a lot of people in churches," said Slane.

He argues, a relationship between two adults could be considered criminal.

"You could have an 18 or 19 year old boy dating another girl who is older, he could be accused of rape even though it's consensual," said Slane.