T Nation

It WAS rape

Okay, I just got done reading TC’s atomic dog article in which he references a recent Supreme Court decision in which a 17 year old boy’s rape conviction was upheld. Outrage was expressed at the conviction since the girl said something non-commital during sex about “having to go now” which terminated the consent. For everyone out there who is outraged that this changes the definition of rape, I suggest you read the actual opinion of the California Supreme Court instead of relying on news reports about it. If you actually read what occurred, there would be no doubt that the young women was raped. First, the news reports ignore the fact that the defendant and her friend forcibly removed her clothes when she told them not to. She objected and resisted when the defendant’s friend forced her to have sex. After she had already been raped by the defendant’s friend, she started putting her clothes back on when the “innocent” 17 year old defendant pushed her back on the bed, got on top of her and started having sex with her. She tried to pull away and asked him to stop. At the end of the rape, she said she had to go home and he responded, “give me some time” and kept forcing her to have sex for another 90 seconds. The Supreme Court assumed (for the sake of argument) that she initially consented to intercourse (which is doubtful since she had just been raped by the defendant’s friend). The Supreme Court opined: “…assuming arguendo that Laura initially consented to, or appeared to consent to, intercourse with defendant, substantial evidence shows that she withdrew her consent and, through her actions and words, communicated that fact to defendant.” The Supreme Court later states: “Laura testified that she struggled to get away when she was on top of defendant, but that he grabbed her waist and pushed her down onto him. At this point Laura told defendant that if he really cared about her, he would respect her wishes and stop.

Thereafter, she told the defendant three times that she needed to go home and that she did not accept his protestations he needed just a ‘minute.’ Defendant continued the sex act for at least four or five minutes after Laura first told him she needed to go home. According to Laura, after the third time she asked to leave, defendant continued to insist that he needed more time and ‘just stayed inside of me and kept like basically forcing it on me,’ for about a ‘minute, minute and [a] half.’ . . . . [T]he force defendant exerted in resisting Laura’s attempts to stop the act was clearly ample to satisfy [the statutory elements for forcible rape].” So the bottom line is that this poor young women was clearly raped not once, but twice within minutes of one another. She struggled unsuccessfully both times. News stories are not always to be trusted. This is one such prime example. Nothing in the Supreme Court’s decision comes close to the legal ruling that is being spun by the journalists, nor does it change the law of rape in any way. Before anyone flies off the handle about another law against men, it is usually best to get the facts…

She should consider herself lucky. See if she ever finds a man who can last 4 or 5 minutyes again. Ironmen don’t come along every day.
PS: I am soooooo funny

:slight_smile: Groove

I’m glad you posted this. It’s information I’d never heard from any media reportsat all, and it DOES change my view on the decision.

Thanks for gathering the facts Matt.

two sides to every story. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

I thought that there had to be more on to this story… thanks

Just curious…from what source(s) did you uncover this information? If true then once again the media attempting cause trouble (which is why I rarely watch television).

I got the facts from the actual text of the California Supreme Court decision which I printed off of Westlaw (an online site for legal research). I don’t know why articles about legal news are so often wrong. I am an attorney and whenever I read something in the news about a legal decision that doesn’t sound quite right, I look at the actual opinion and 9 times out of 10, my instincts are correct, and the reporter got it wrong.

It’s entirely possible that I got the story wrong. However, if what you said was true, I wonder why it had to go the California Supreme Court? I mean, if it was that cut and dried, why was it brought before the court (and why did they choose to hear the case)?

Furthermore, what rationale did the one judge give in voting against the ruling? He’d have to be loopy.

And lastly, if indeed it did happened the way you describe, why did the popular media jump on it the way they did? (Yes, yes, I know they often make stories out of non-issues, but this one’s generating far too much airtime for me to think that it was just a slow news week).

Ditto for cloak, where did you find these amazing revalations?

Indeed, the truth is somewhere between the 2 versions, but I tend to lean more toward the ‘innocent boy’ version. Let me tell you why. I go to Ohio University, and when I was a soph, a guy from my dorm got expelled for “raping” a girl. I put quotes around ‘raping’ for good reason. See, they both went out that night, and I am assuming they were nice and hosed - both parties admitted to drinking, but never said how much - and ended up having sex in the shower ON HER FLOOR. The guys and girls floors are seperate in that dorm. Then they proceeded to go back to HER ROOM and go to sleep. THE NEXT DAY she decided that that decision wasnt the greatest of her life, and started yelling rape. The guy was expelled for THE CHARGES ALONE. He was found guilty by the university. And it is now on his record. She went on her merry way until he sued for defamation. Then she counter sued for the same thing (i have no idea how). Anyway, during the trials, it came out that she did consent, but decided the next day that she did not like her decision. BUT SHE NEVER CHANGED HER STANCE ON THE FACT THAT SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS RAPED. THey settle out of court for an undisclosed amount, then he sued my school and they settled as well. That is one reason for tuition hike that i am not going to complain about… Anyway, how the hell can a guy win? a girl agrees to sex, then the next day when the guy wasnt as good as she had hoped for, or turns out to be a real prick, or is uglier in the light, or whatever, she can scream rape and he is toast. This guy will always have “convicted of rape by university” on his record. ALWAYS. but during the entire act, it was consentual. Granted, both had been drinking, but that is no damn excuse. I hate it when ppl use that for an excuse. I was drunk- i dont give a fuck, it was your choice to drink that much, knowing that it impairs your thinking, and you did it anyway, realizing that consequences may come. it was YOUR CHOICE to do it. it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to take whatever comes as a result. Now, anybody wanna argue that this guy wasnt royally screwed over by the system?

I cannot speak for why the media jumped on this one or why they put the spin on it that they did. Chalk it up to sensationalist journalism or the fact that whomever writes these articles doesn’t know how to read a legal opinion. (BTW TC, I am not blaming you for innocently relying on news articles that you assumed to be accurate. Rather, the point of my post was to cite what the California Supreme Court actually stated and to set the record straight.)

As to the reason why the California Supreme Court took the case, the reason is explained in the Court’s opinion: “We granted this case to settle conflict in Court of Appeal decisions as to whether the crime of forcible rape is committed if the female victim consents to an initial penetration by her male companion, and then withdraws consent during the act of intercourse, but the male continues against her will.” One California Appellate Court opinion (People v. Vela) held that it is not forcible rape if a woman withdraws her consent post-penetration, whereas another Appellate Court opinion (People v. Roundtree) held that it was. So the California Supreme Court granted review for the purpose of uniformity of California law. The California Supreme Court held: “We agree with Roundtree and the Court of Appeal in the present case that the withdrawal effectively nullifies any earlier consent and subjects the male to forcible rape charges if he persists in what has become nonconsensual intercourse.” The Supreme Court based this ruling on the statutory element of rape as codified in California Penal Code sections 261 and 263.

The lone dissenting justice agreed with the majority about the law of rape. Indeed, the dissenting opinon states: “A woman has an absolute right to say ‘no’ to an act of sexual intercourse. After intercourse has commenced, she has the absolute right to call a halt and say ‘no more,’ and if she is compelled to continue, a forcible rape is committed.” The Dissent broke with the majority because it felt that there were unaddressed issues both at the trial level and in the majority opinion regarding whether force was used and whether the withdrawal of consent had clearly been communicated.

It should be noted that both the majority and the dissent analyze the case using the “substantial evidence” standard. This means that the trial record must be read as a whole to determine whether a reasonable trier of fact could reach the ruling it did based on the facts (even of the Appellate Court or the Supreme Court would have ruled differently). This is a very deferential standard of review.

You are missing the point of both my post and TC’s Atomic Dog aricle. The issue was what is the LAW of rape, not whether women sometimes lie about being raped. The law of rape in the case you cite clearly is that she was not raped. While she may have lied about it, the facts are that remorse over a decision to have consensual sex is not rape under any definition. The point of my message was not what actually happened since I was not there, but rather what the law of rape is. The media reports have been making it sound like the legal definition of rape has changed, when it really has not. No one really argues that a woman has a right to terminate sexual intercourse that starts off as consensual and that if a male forcibly persists after a woman clearly withdraws her consent, it is rape. The real question raised by the media reports was whether the words “I have to go home” are enough of an unequivocal statement of withdrawal of consent for a man to know that consent has been withdrawn. But the media reports about the case ignore the other evidence of what occurred to show that consent was either not given at all or that it was clearly withdrawn: the fact that the woman had just been raped by the defendant’s friend, the fact that during the act of sex with the defendant she tried to get away and he wouldn’t let her, the fact that she said during the sex that she didn’t want to do this, the fact that she repeated the phrase that she had to go three times.

Assuming that all of this is believed to be true (of course it is a he said/she said case), then in light of all the circumstances, a rape certainly occurred under the law. It is not even a close question. The decision did not turn on the girl’s statement that “I have to go home” and the boy continuing to have intercourse with her for 1 minute thereafter. The Supreme Court decision looked at all the evidence together that the sex was nonconsensual or that the girl had unequivocally withdrawn consent such that a reasonable male would know. I certainly hope that if you were ever having sex with a woman that began as consensual and that she later started struggling to get away and asking you to stop, you would realize that she no longer wanted to have sex. If you using force to keep her there and ignored her repeated pleas that she had to go, then you too would be guilty of rape, and rightfully so.

Here’s the court’s opinion http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S103427.PDF

One other point to make about the whole withdrawal of consent issue. Not even the defendant argued that if a woman withdraws consent mid-intercourse it is not rape. Indeed, the decision states:

“Defendant, candidly acknowledging Vela’s [The 1985 appellate decision stating that forced sex after withdrawn consent is not rape] flawed reasoning, contends that, in cases involving an initial consent to intercourse, the male should be permitted a ‘reasonable amount of time’ in which to withdraw, once the female raises an objection to further intercourse.” Among the reasons for rejecting this argument, the California Supreme Court stated, “even were we to accept defendant’s ‘reasonable time’ argument, in the present case he clearly was given ample time to withdraw but refused to do so despite Laura’s resistance and objections. Although Defendant testified he withdrew as soon as Laura objected, for the purposes of appeal we need not accept this testimony as true in light of Laura’s contrary testimony.”

Thus, everyone agrees (including the Defendant) that the law of rape requires sex to end if consent is withdrawn. Please note that appellate courts do not retry the evidence, rather they are deferential to the factual findings of the trial court or jury which is why the Supreme Court ignored the defendant’s contrary testimony since it was up to the trier of fact. Since the evidence of what occurred was in conflict, the Supreme Court has no legal authority to substitute its judgment for the credibility determinations of the trial judge and had to accept Laura’s testimony as truthful. Based on Laura’s testimony, it was clear that consent (if it had ever been given to begin with) was withdrawn and the defendant had ample time to withdraw, but refused to do so.

By the way, if any of you would actually like to read the opinion of the California Supreme Court, it can be located at the following cite: In re John Z., 29 Cal.4th 756 (2003).

Matthew…I think that I’ve asked you to give your imput on legal questions before…and as always, your insights are invaluable. Thanks.

So, I have a question about this case…because for the average “Joe”, something about it just doesn’t “sit” right. First…I think that we all would agree that the print and visual media love sound bites, and headlines…or something that the politicians can get on a soapbox about…and that in this case, narrowing it down and presenting it the way they did was an actual disservice.

But this is where I see the “average” person having a problem.

1)Isn’t it true that with an opinion, a higher court will often answer a VERY narrow question? (As you stated…was this rape in THIS case…)2)

2)Isn’t it also true that “rape” (much like “innocence” or “guilt”) are LEGAL definitions, defined by certain criteria, that in the course of the complexity of human interactions, will often take on AT LEAST the APPEARNCE of unfainess and/or absudity? In other words, the law doesn’t have the ability to “read” peoples minds and intents, but only to interpret peoples actions in the form of presented facts.

…and herein (I think) lies the rub with many in this case…we WANT to know the broader implications of such a decision…we WANT the law to consider the intent and actions of everyone involved. If not…where does that leave us in our interactions with others?

Matthew…irregardless as to how narrow or “lawful” the decision was…it has left a LOT of people uneasy…

In a case of say, Corporate misconduct…most people won’t ever be in the position of a CEO or COO…

However…in a case like this…people become confused, pissed off…and quite frankly scared…because they most definitely realize that it could VERY easily be themselves. As was discussed on a Forum I saw on T.V.“How many of us, caught up in the intense sensations, stimulation and emotion of the act of sex, would have the ability to stop in the middle of the act? (Probably very few of us…)And if you don’t stop when told to…does it constitute the legal definition of rape?”
As Matthew pointed out, the case was a bit more complex than that…but that question seems to still be at the core of it all…

However…this is a broad question that I don’t think that the courts could (or should?) answer.

Great topic!


I am NOT in disaggrement with what Matthew has presented…I simply want to 1)learn and 2) stimulate broader discourse…


Matthew, thanks for all the info. I’m definitely going to read the legal briefs.

Yeah, I was at OU at that time too and that case was just a big joke. They actually had sex in his dorm in the shower floor. They stopped at her sorrority house prior to going to the dorm. The house has a code you have to enter to get inside (she obviously wasn’t too drunk to enter the code) and when they got in the house mom caught them (guys aren’t allowed there) and she kicked them out. Determined to get some she followed him to his dorm and that’s when the incident happened. Both were too drunk but it only goes against the guy. Its a shame really.

Maybe they need different degrees of rape, like murder does. Perhaps differing degrees of sexual misconduct, like manslaughter. It bothers me that this kid’s conduct, even if ill-advised, would get put in the same category as someone who sneaks in a woman’s apt. and rapes her.