CA High Court Rules That Rape is Still Rape if Victim Changes Mind

In a ruling that changes the legal definition of rape in California, the CA Supreme Court ruled recently that rape could still occur if a victim changes his or her mind during sexual intercourse. The 6-1 ruling rejected a 1985 ruling that said that no rape occurs when there is original consent even if the victim changes her mind. “One can readily imagine situations in which the defendant is able to obtain penetration before the victim can express an objection or attempt to resist,” wrote Justice Ming Chin in the courts opinion as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The case involves two teenagers from El Dorado County in March 2000. John Z., the defendant, argued that the sex was consensual. Laura T. said that she tried to end the intercourse and told him three times she needed to go home. “Just give me a minute,” he replied, according to the opinion as reported in the LA Times.

While the Feminist Majority and other women’s groups applaud this decision because rape can often occur without obvious signs of resistance, the likelihood of a conviction without those obvious signs of resistance is still low. According to statistics from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), only 39 percent of all rapes are reported to police. Of those cases reported, only 16.3 percent of the perpetrators will end up in prison.


LA Times 1/7/03; SF Chronicle 1/7/03; Sacramento Bee 1/7/03; Associated Press 1/6/03

Support eh ERA banner