Archive for the ‘Tim Harris’ Category

Podcast: Tulsa Lawmakers Author Language to Close Loophole in State Rape Law

April 16, 2008

To Listen to the Podcast, Click Here

Sen. James A. Williamson (R-Tulsa) and Rep. Pam Peterson (R-OKC) have unveiled language to close a loophole in Oklahoma criminal statutes. The Tulsa Republicans crafted the measure after a Tulsa County judge was forced to reduce charges against an accused rapist from first-degree rape to second-degree rape. Williamson:

There’s a case in Tulsa County right now where a male nurse is accused of raping a patient who was sedated. The nurse was initially charged with first-degree rape, but the judge said under current law, a victim who has been drugged or is unconscious at the time of the assault can only be charged with second-degree rape. It is tragic a crime had to occur before this problem came to light, but now it is our responsibility to amend this law to allow the strongest punishment possible.

Williamson said he had approached Sen. Jonathan Nichols (R-Norman), about amending one of his bills to include the language clarifying the definition of first-degree rape. Nichols said he would support such an amendment

As a former prosecutor, and father of two daughters, I am thankful that Senator Williamson has identified and is closing this terrible loophole in the laws against rape. Rape committed by use of sedatives or any such drugs should absolutely be first-degree rape and carry the maximum punishment.

Peterson said she was stunned to learn that an assault on someone who had been drugged could only result in a charge of second-degree rape:

If you’ve been given an intoxicating narcotic or anesthetic, there is no way you can consent to sex. It seems obvious to any lay person the charge should be first-degree rape, but the way the law is currently written, it isn’t. I contend it shouldn’t matter that the victim was drugged at the time. Rape is rape.

Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris said the difference is a maximum penalty of 15 years for second-degree rape versus up to life in prison for first-degree rape. He applauded the lawmakers for their efforts to correct the language in current law that prevents the charge of first-degree rape from being pursued:

It is frustrating to find an oversight in state law that thwarts justice, but I am very pleased to have been able to work with Senator Williamson and Representative Peterson to fix this law. I think it is important for the safety of Oklahoma citizens everywhere.