Massachusetts is considering an update to the state’s rape law, allowing prosecutors to bring charges against those who use fraud or deceit in order to engage in sex with an otherwise unwilling victim.
The move, proposed by Waltham Rep. Koutoujian, was spurred by two incidents that, by any measure, were deplorable. In the first, a pharmacist in Wilbraham, MA (home of Friendly’s Ice Cream) posed as a gynecologist in order to give bogus exams to two women. A Westfield, MA man posed as his brother in a darkened room and had sex with his brother’s girlfriend. Thanksgiving at that house is going to be interesting next year, don’t you think?
Accordingly, the new law has some noble intentions at its core. The two aforementioned scum-buckets need some good old fashioned retribution. However, I’m not sure that the instrument fits the job. Here is the text of the new law.
Whoever has sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual intercourse with a person having obtained that person’s consent by the use of fraud, concealment, or artifice and who thereby intentionally deceived such person so that a reasonable person would not have consented but for the deception, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for life or any term of years. As used in this statute, `fraud’ or `artifice’ shall not be construed to mean a promise of future consideration.” (source)
I do like the fact that the legislators thought to exclude “a promise of future consideration.” Therefore “yeah baby, I swear, I can get you a role in my next movie” will not land someone in jail.
On the other hand, philandering husbands would be looking at a little time in the stockade if their paramours got upset (believe it or not, that happens). Married? Naw, baby, I’m not married“. Or how about, “I’m going to leave my wife in a few months, trust me. So might “of course I’ll respect you in the morning, giggity giggity“.
Feel free to add your own in the comments section. One person already suggested that a woman who issued a pre-coital false statement to the effect of “yes, I’m on the pill” would be guilty of rape if the law passed.
The bill’s sponsor tried to allay fears that the law would be used to target men who might simply be described as pigs… rather than rapists.
[He] said prosecutors would consider societal norms, adding, “I don’t know a norm of society right now that would bring those up for a charge of rape.” He immediately added, “We can never say never.”(source)
I agree with the spirit of the proposed legislation. The two sleazeballs from Wilbraham and Westfield should be punished, and it seems wrong that the law would not provide the victims with a remedy.
On the other hand, this approach to the problem is just screaming for abuse. I simply don’t trust any prosecutor to apply “societal norms” when deciding who to prosecute for a charge as serious as rape. You need look no further than how prosecutors have abused citizens with obscenity prosecutions, more obscenity prosecutions, or laws regarding videotaping the police to see that I am right.
Rep. Koutoujian, your heart is in the right place. Go back to the drafting pad and write the law with a lot more precision, and even I would support it. In its current form, this law is a monster.
And I don’t mean a one-eyed trouser monster! Giggity.