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Change to Oregon Rape Law?

OPB | June 25, 2009 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:53 p.m.

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If a woman becomes drunk, blacks out and is raped, should prosecutors be allowed to charge rape or first degree sex abuse? Or should the current law be retained, which only allows a defendant to be charged with sex abuse in the second degree?

Specifically, the bill deals with the concept of mental incapacitation.

The Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force says the bill “removes the question of how a person who is assaulted became incapacitated, and focuses instead on the person’s ability to consent to sexual activity and the defendant’s knowledge of that state of mental incapacity.”

Other advocates of the bill have called it a “no-brainer” that would bring Oregon in line with  a majority of states —like California and Washington — where how a victim became incapacitated is not an issue.

But people like Gail Meyer say, it’s not so simple. She has a 13-year-old daughter and says she can appreciate the concerns of the bill’s authors. But she says this bill leaves innocent people vulnerable to prosecution and shifts the burden of proof to the defendant.

She says that under this bill, two people could get drunk at night, wake up in the morning and only one could be charged with rape. It’s entirely possible an innocent man could end up serving years in prison under Measure 11, the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing law

Is this change to Oregon law appropriate? Have you or someone you know been the victim of rape? What questions do you have about the impact of this proposed change to Oregon rape law?

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