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State lawmaker vows to close legal loophole after rape verdict uproar

LOS ANGELES — An appellate court ruling overturning a rape conviction because the victim wasn't married prompted anger Friday from women's groups and a state legislator who plans to introduce a bill that would close the legal loophole.

In its ruling, California's 2nd District Court of Appeal reluctantly concluded that Julio Morales hadn't raped an 18-year-old because a state law crafted in the 1870s says a person who gets consent for sex by pretending to be someone else is only guilty of rape if the victim is married and the perpetrator is pretending to be the spouse. In this case, Morales apparently pretended to be the teen's boyfriend, and she didn't recognize otherwise until seeing him in the light.

The court urged the Legislature to update the law, and state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, said Friday that he would introduce a bill.

"Californians are justifiably outraged by this court ruling, and it is important that the Legislature join together to close whatever loopholes may exist in the law and uphold justice for rape victims," Achadjian said.

Achadjian had a 2011 bill that would have expanded the rape law to include perpetrators who pose as live-in boyfriends or girlfriends and dupe their victims into sex. The bill was approved by the Assembly but stalled in the Senate Public Safety Committee because of its policy to hold any legislation that could add to the state's prison overcrowding problem.


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