Home / Crimes Against Women / Oklahoma Court Rules That Unwanted Oral Sex Isn’t Rape If Victim Is Unconscious From Drinking
Credit: Oklahomawatch.org
Credit: Oklahomawatch.org

Oklahoma Court Rules That Unwanted Oral Sex Isn’t Rape If Victim Is Unconscious From Drinking

Photo Credit: The Guardian
Photo Credit: The Guardian

Oklahoma is truly on a roll this week for reproductive freedom and women’s rights.

Just a few days before criminalizing abortion doctors, which effectively makes abortion illegal statewide, a state court issued a stunning ruling when it found that state law doesn’t criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious.

The ruling, which was reached unanimously by the state’s criminal appeals court, immediately sparked outrage among activists and critics noting the blatant condoning of sexual assault and rape culture in a verdict offering such minimal protection to victims while in the same breath allowing their perpetrators to walk on a technicality.

The case specifically involved claims that a 17-year-old boy assaulted a 16-year-old girl after initially offering to drive her home.  The two had been drinking earlier at a park in Tulsa with other friends when it became clear that the girl was “badly intoxicated,” as witnesses recalled that she had to be carried into the defendant’s car.

The perpetrator gave a ride home to an additional teenage male, who confirmed that the girl was “coming in and out of consciousness” throughout his time spent in the vehicle.

Some time later, the boy later brought the girl to her grandmother’s house, also her legal guardian. After seeing suspicious signs physically, the grandmother called the hospital, where a test put her blood alcohol content above .34.

Additional testing would later confirm that the young man’s DNA was found throughout the back of her leg and around her mouth. When questioned about these findings, the boy claimed that the girl had consented to performing oral sex.

The girl said she didn’t have any memories after leaving the park, prompting Tulsa County prosecutors to charge the young man with forcible oral sodomy.

And yet, the trial judge dismissed the case initially for reasons unspecified.

The appeals court ruling, on 24 March, confirmed that prosecutors “could not apply the law to a victim who was incapacitated by alcohol.”

The most notorious passage of the ruling reads:

“Forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation,” the decision read. Its reasoning, the court said, was that the statute listed several circumstances that constitute force, and yet was silent on incapacitation due to the victim drinking alcohol. “We will not, in order to justify prosecution of a person for an offense, enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language.”

Despite Oklahoma’s rape law stipulating that a rape can occur in situations where the victim is intoxicated or unconscious, the forcible sodomy law illogically does not contain the same language. It would appear that the appeals court issued its unanimous ruling because the law lacks the identical provision.

Benjamin Fu, the Tulsa County district attorney leading the case, has described the ruling as leaving him “completely gobsmacked”.

The young defendant’s attorney, Shannon McMurray, told Oklahoma Watch, which first reported the ruling, that prosecutors were clearly in the wrong to charge the young man with forcible sodomy, and not a lesser crime of unwanted touching.

“There was absolutely no evidence of force or him doing anything to make this girl give him oral sex,” McMurray said, “other than she was too intoxicated to consent.”

About Adam Ciminello

Entrepreneurship, Social Justice, and the idea of Bono never performing again are all things that excite me. And yes, my grandma is cooler than yours. Say hi sometime on twitter @Aciminello

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