Articles Tagged with sex crimes

In lieu of the national outrage over the seemingly light sentence of Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, the state of California has just proposed a bill which would mandate a minimum sentence of three years for crimes of sexual assault. The legislation, Assembly Bill 2888, was introduced by Democratic Assemblymen Evan Low and Bill Dodd and co-sponsored by Rosen and Democratic state Sen. Jerry Hill. Critics warn that while well intended, we forget about prosecutorial discretions and police discretions, which are the main barriers to rape convictions.

Brock Turner, 20, spiraled into fame when he was convicted of three felony assault charges: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object. His sentence drew national outrage and increased dialogue on what it means to have White privilege, because he was only sentenced to six months. It is further projected he will only serve three months of that sentence, when he was facing 10 years imprisonment. The jury deliberated for less than two days over the eight-day trial.  

Turner was arrested after two male students witnessed him on top of a drunk and unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus.  will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, but he still remains free on $150,000 bail.

Sexual Assault vs. Rape

Under California law, Turner was indeed convicted of sexual assault (aka sexual battery) rather than rape. Under the California Penal Code, the definition of rape includes “sexual intercourse,” whereas “forcible acts of sexual penetration” is a separate crime. See CA Penal Code § 243.4. In the Turner case, the foreign object under the statute was Turner’s fingers. In fact, California is one of many states that include body parts that are not sexual organs in its statutes on penetration with a foreign object. Thus, rape is a higher offense.

CA Penal Code § 243.4, also known as California’s sexual battery/assault law, specifically prohibits touching the intimate part of another person for purposes of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. It can be tried as a misdemeanor or felony. It is tried as a felony when the victim is unaware of the nature of the act (ie. unconscious), unlawfully restrained, or mentally incapacitated to consent. Continue reading

A tutor at Mar Vista High School is now facing criminal charges for having a sexual relationship with a 16 year old student at the school. Alejandro Rodriguez, 20, is accused of having a relationship with a student that lasted about a week. The victim in this case, has only been identified as “John Doe.” Evidently, he had told his cousin about the relationship, who then told the victim’s father. His father immediately contacted the police.   

Rodriguez has been charged with four felony counts of oral copulation and one count of sodomy of a person under 18 years of age. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison. It is reported that the DA’s office is prosecuting the relationship as a non-forcible sex crime. According to Rodriguez’s defense attorney, claims that if his client had been a woman, and not involved in a same-sex relationship, there would be a less restrictive charge available. It is because his client can only be charged with sodomy, the ‘crime’ of anal sex, with both parties being men.

California Statutory Rape Laws

In a ruling that even other lawyers, prosecutors, the nation, and judges are calling completely “absurd,” a conservative Oklahoma court has ruled that rape cannot happen if the victim is unconscious. A court rejected the prosecution of a teenage boy in Tulsa because his 16-year-old accuser had been intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness. In its ruling, the Court of Criminal Appeals stated Forcible Sodomy cannot occur when a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act. “We will not, in order to justify prosecution of a person for an offense, enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language,” Judge Hudson said.

Specifically, Oklahoma’s rape law does not mention unconsciousness or intoxication as an element of the crime. Back in 2014, a group of high school students gathered in a Tulsa park to drink and smoke marijuana. Witnesses said the girl had been drifting in and out of unconsciousness and had been unable to walk. The defendant took the girl to his car, and he was then accused of forcing her to perform oral sex. The boy said the ensuing oral sex was consensual, but the victim told the police she did not remember anything else after being at the park. The defendant was initially charged with first-degree rape and forcible oral sodomy, but both charges were dismissed at trial.

Forced Oral Sex is Rape in California

The Centers for Disease Control recently released a report about an adult film actor in California who infected two sexual partners with HIV in the weeks after he contracted the virus, but before it was detected by lab tests. The unnamed actor was apparently infected by a partner outside of work six days before his negative lab results, according to a report by the CDC published on February 11.

The topic of whether sex without a condom constitutes free speech is a long contested one in California. As a state home to a booming porn industry, it has witnessed several attempts to mandate condom use. This November, Californians will be able to vote on a ballot measure that would require condom use for the pornographic movies and allow any state resident to sue to enforce the law.

About 50,000 Americans are newly infected with HIV each year, and the numbers seem to be increasing. More importantly, it is widely known that once infected, the virus does not show up in test results right away.

Convicted human smuggler Martel Valencia-Cortez was believed to have assaulted a San Diego Border Patrol agent with a rock earlier this year. It is believed that Cortez had threw a rock at the agent at a human smuggling event, who thereafter fired his weapon at Cortez. He was allegedly caught smuggling 14 illegal aliens into California. Cortez was somehow able to escape back to Mexico while the 14 illegal aliens were taken into custody. Cortez is currently on the run, and is evidently well-known in the area. He has been allegedly smuggling people over the border since 1997 and was recently released from prison from a three year smuggling charge in September.  

Cortez is considered armed and dangerous by officials. Additionally, he is now believed to be connected to “El Tigre,” a lieutenant in the Sinaloa Drug Cartel a by U.S. Border Patrol.

Human Trafficking in California

Federal law makes it a crime to smuggle or help smuggle (bring in) someone into the United States if they are not a citizen. See Sections 274(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. It is a felony punishable by imprisonment of 10 years and a fine. The penalty also gets multiplied by the number of people one is convicted of attempting to smuggle in.

In California, Penal Code § 236.1 addresses the crime of  “human trafficking.” The Code defines human trafficking as:

  • Bringing people into the U.S. to exploit them for labor;
  • Depriving someone of their personal liberty as it pertains to sexual exploitation or child sexual exploitation;
  • Persuading or trying to persuade someone to engage in a commercial sex act (ie. prostitution).

Human trafficking is a Class C felony in California. However, back in 2012, California voters passed Proposition 35 (the “Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act”), which provided for even harsher penalties. Now if you are convicted of human trafficking to obtain forced labor services, you will face five to 12 years imprisonment and a fine up to $500,000. If you are convicted of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, child pornography, or extortion, the term of imprisonment increases to 8 to 20 years, a fine of $500,000 and a requirement of joining the sex offender registry. Lastly, if you are convicted of persuading a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, you will be facing 15 years to life imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, and a sex offender registration. Continue reading