Danny feels that despite helping many rape victims, history shows that too many are still not getting the support and justice they need and deserve.
If you recall not too long ago, the Justice Department finally got around to taking a look at their definition of rape. Not the wording I would have chosen but it’s a start towards the hopeful goal recognizing all rape victims (a crucial first step in helping all rape victims).
Well the law on rape that’s on the books, in New York at least, still has a major problem with it. A major problem that has just let a rapist technically get away with rape (and I say technically because while he was not convicted of rape, he was convicted of three counts of predatory sexual assault, each carrying a maximum of 25 to life).
The problem lies in the burden of proof required in order to prove rape. Take a look at what prosecutors must show in order to prove first degree anal/oral assault.
To convict someone of first-degree oral or anal sexual assault, prosecutors need only show “contact” between the attacker and the victim.
Now take a look at what prosecutors must show in order to prove rape.
But when the charge is rape, prosecutors must prove that there was “penetration, however slight.” Simple vaginal “contact” is “sexual abuse,” a much lower category of crime.
I’m not a lawyer and that might be why this seems a bit confusing.
From what I gather here, this seems like it’s saying that if a perpetrator were to make contact with the victim’s anus or mouth then its sexual assault but if the perpetrator were to make contact with the victim’s vagina then it would not count as rape unless there is proof that that contact with the vagina included penetration.
That little distinction between “contact” and “penetration” is exactly what allowed former cop Michael Pena to avoid conviction of rape. Apparently since there was no vaginal penetration its not rape.
Gentlemen do you hear this nonsense? The idea that since her vagina was not penetrated it’s not rape.
This former cop took a woman at gunpoint, assaulted her orally and anally, but since her vagina wasn’t proven to have been penetrated (or at least the prosecution didn’t convince the jury that vaginal penetration happened) it is not rape. Does that sound familiar?
Take a look at this story from about 3 years ago where a man in Hollywood, CA was raped.
In 2009 James Hornik was raped by a man, and when he went to the police to press charges, the LAPD actively denied performing a rape kit examination. Despite women (usually) being offered such examinations as a matter of course Mr. Hornik was allegedly told by the LAPD that “a gay man can’t be raped”.
According to California penal code rape is, “an ‘act of sexual intercourse or penetration, however slight, which is sufficient to complete the crime.’” Under this definition, even the often disbelieved circumstance of female against male rape fits the condition. Yet and still Mr. Hornik was told that gay men cannot be raped. To this day, the LAPD has yet to be held accountable for the way they treated Mr. Hornik.
Damaging beliefs like this (even when they run counter to what is on the law books) are why so many men and women are left with little in the ways of of support and nothing in the ways of justice when they need them the most. Women being horribly violated in some of the worst ways possible but being told it wasn’t rape because there was no vaginal penetration. Men being told that since they are gay they somehow cannot be raped.
As things stand now, will history say that Mr. Hornik and the victim of Pena were not raped not because of the things that were or were not done? No, history will say that Mr. Hornik and Pena’s victim were not raped because they did not fit some narrow idea of what rape is. (And while Hornik may have a chance at finally reporting his crime, depending on statutes of limitation, Pena has already been found not guilty of rape so even though he will hopefully be put a way for a very long time in a twisted technical and legal sense, he legally didn’t rape that woman).
Is that the kind of history we want to write for rape victims?
Photo of A bald man facing a red wall courtesy of Shutterstock.