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California Lawmakers Seek Expanded Definition Of Rape

Women Senators Read Portions Of Stanford Rape Victim's Letter On Senate Floor
California Lawmakers Seek Expanded Definition Of Rape
California Lawmakers Seek Expanded Definition Of Rape GUEST: Cristina Garcia, assemblywoman, D-Bell Gardens

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. It's Wednesday, June 15. Our top story on midday edition, the judge who sentenced Brock Turner to six months in jail for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman has been removed from hearing another sexual assault case. Judge Aaron Persky was taken off the case by the Santa Rosa County deal -- DA. The fallout from the Brock Turner case has traveled as far as the state capital. I spoke with state assemblywoman, Cristina Garcia who is cosponsoring a bill to expand California's legal definition of rape. A lot of people in the media refer to the Brock Turner case is a rape case, he was actually charged with sexual assault. What's the difference under current law? In current state law, only if it's penile vaginal penetration is it considered rate, -- rape. The rape conviction has the possibility for the judge to give more years of jail time. It also has to do with the psychology, when you tell a victim and survivor that they were not raped because of the technology -- terminology. We want to approach law from the perspective of our survivors. Tell us about your bill and how would change the definition. The definition is very traditional, we are trying to match up with the FBI definition. Rape is an active penetration, no matter how slight, with any body part or object or oral penetration. Without the consent of the victim. This is the FBI's definition of rape. They expanded it several years ago and a number of other states have moved to adopt it. What is California from doing the same? Maybe it was, out of sight out of mind. It wasn't until this case came up, that it was brought to my attention. It was not on people's radar. What sort of response have you received, to this bill that you've introduced? Most septic has been positive. We have eight co-authors, there's a strong commitment from the legislature to get this right. We see a movement to end the rape culture. Make sure that we are not putting the victims on trial, like we've been doing for so long. We always ask what we could have done to prevent it versus what have we done to teach our society and our boys not to rape, not two of abuse someone. Legislature starts by changing the definition. Do you feel that under an expanded definition, Brock Turner may have received harsher punishment? I think so. When we talk about sexual assault in the psychology of how we look at it, it's different when we for your the word rape. We think about it in a much more negative way. I can't speak to the judges psychology, I think if he is seeing something as rape, I would hope that we see it differently and have much stronger convictions. Judge Persky is being severely criticized, for the six-month sentence he handed down, which may only be three months to be served in jail. Considering, County probation officers recommended a sentence of less than a year to the judge, do you think there's more that needs to be fixed in the way California courts deal with sex crimes? Definitely. The DA asked for six years, we had varying opinions from public safety. The judge and the probation officers talked about not ruining this young man's life, let's make it clear, he's a perpetrator he committed a crime, he abused a young woman. Versus are we doing what's best for the survivor, I think we need to be more about how we approach this and whose benefit we are here to protect, whose rights? The way that this was discussed by the judge, by the kids bother calling it 20 minutes of action, which is so disgusting. It speaks to the culture we have and the lack of understanding for survivors. In reading about this case, there have been some people who've written, this case is very typical of what could happen on any college campus on any weekend night. Therefore, I'm wondering why you think this case has struck such a chord with the public. I think this case -- I think we've been looking at rape culture more here, we asked two bills -- past two bills, make sure students are aware of moving forward and they really have consult -- consent. We passed legislation to make sure that high school students are taught, what is conceptual -- consensual sex. We have a lot of work to do, this one bill will not fix our problems, it allows us to have a discussion about making sure that weekend this rape culture. The survivor carries this burden and trauma all of their lives. I want to read a sentence from the victim statement. She said, I don't want my body anymore, I was terrified of it, I didn't know what had been in it. If it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I think these are the type of emotions that an individual lives with all of their lives. To be told that you were not raped, because it wasn't a traditional penetration, that allows the trauma to live further and longer with them. I've been speaking with California Assemblywoman, Cristina Garcia. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Two California lawmakers are pushing for an expanded definition of rape under state law in response to the Stanford University case that has drawn national attention.

California law now describes rape as "an act of sexual intercourse." Under this definition, ex-Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was instead convicted of sexual assault.

Many states have adopted the more inclusive FBI definition, which labels rape as penetration with any body part or object.


Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens calls this gap a "loophole" in the criminal code. She introduced legislation Monday to change the definition.

"When you tell a survivor that they were not raped because of a technicality in that definition, we want to make sure we are approaching our laws from the perspective of our survivors and not something that benefits the perpetrators," she said.

Her bill would make the state's definition match the FBI's definition.

Members of the California Senate women's caucus also voiced their support for the victim Monday, reading portions of her letter to Turner aloud.

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