Daily Court Reporter - News Lawmakers want to remove spousal exceptions from sex crimes
Lawmakers want to remove spousal exceptions from sex crimes
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
A bipartisan duo of central Ohio lawmakers has teamed up to remove spousal exceptions from sex crimes.
Spurred by stories of instances in which husbands either have drugged or incapacitated their wives for the purpose of having sex with the women while unconscious, Reps. Kristin Boggs, D-Columbus, and Laura Lanese, R-Grove City, introduced House Bill 561 to remove marital exemption from state law.
“HB 561 eliminates all exceptions to the following sex offenses that currently apply if the person subjected to the prohibited conduct is the offender’s spouse: Rape, sexual battery, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, gross sexual imposition, and sexual imposition,” Lanese told fellow members of the Ohio House of Representatives seated for the Criminal Justice Committee. “Statistically, it is reported that up to 10 percent of sexual assaults occur within the confines of marriage, and if there is domestic violence present the number can go as high as 70 percent.
“Tragically, many of the victims don’t realize that they have been assaulted until they find recordings of the rape on their spouse’s phone or worse in the public realm or on social media.”
In a 2013 instance involving a Utah police officer, the woman discovered recordings on her husband’s phone of him raping her after she had been drugged, Lanese recounted. The day after the officer accused her husband, he killed her, the couple’s children, the woman’s mother before killing himself.
In addition to eliminating exceptions to certain sex offenses that currently apply if the victim is the spouse of the offender, HB 561 would expand proceedings in which a person may testify against his spouse to include prosecutions for any of the sex offenses modified by the bill.
According to the bill, an individual is permitted to testify against his spouse in a prosecution for any of the particular sex offenses.
Specifically, the bill eliminates all exceptions to sex offenses that currently apply, if the person subjected to the prohibited conduct is the offender’s spouse. The offenses include:
Unlawful sexual conduct with a minor;
Gross sexual imposition;
Ohio Legislative Service Commission analysis of the bill noted the distinct spousal exception for a rape offense.
“It currently applies only if the spouse lives with the offender,” Jeff Hobday wrote for the commission. “Under the bill, a person could be convicted of rape involving the spouse, regardless of whether the spouse lives with or apart from the offender.”
“By including the phrase, ‘not the spouse of the offender’ in our current code, we are confirming the ancient belief that women are property of their husbands and at the words, ‘I do,’ a woman gives up ownership of her own body and forfeits the protections of justice and the law,” Boggs said. “The goal of our bill is to eliminate those words, ‘not the spouse of the offender,’ so that married victims have the same protections from sexual assault as unmarried ones.
Boggs encouraged her fellow lawmakers to stop turning their backs on Ohio sexual assault victims and to join other states who make no distinction between married and unmarried victims.
“Rape is rape,” she concluded. “A wedding ring should not be part of the definition.”
A second hearing of the bill had not been scheduled at time of publication.
Date Published: June 22, 2018