Tonight on AC360: Rape protection only for those married
Julio Morales' mugshot.
January 8th, 2013
06:42 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Rape protection only for those married

A California appeals court has overturned the rape conviction of a man accused of sneaking into an 18-year-old woman’s bedroom and having sex with her while pretending to be her boyfriend. The decision turned on a crucial fact: she wasn’t married.

In the unanimous decision, the court cited an 1872 law that says a suspect is only guilty of rape if the victim is married and the attacker is pretending to be the spouse. In this case, the accused, Julio Morales, pretended to be her boyfriend.

The 18-year-old woman, who had been sleeping, at first consented to sex, thinking she was with her boyfriend. But according to reports, when she realized his true identity she pushed him away. Morales was convicted of rape and sentenced to three years in prison. That conviction has been tossed out and the appeals court says the accused should be retried with prosecutors focusing on another rape law.

CNN’s Kyung Lah will have the latest developments on this legal battle and the fight to change the law. Plus, Anderson talked with Kamala Harris, California’s Attorney General, who’s pushing for the law to change – and why previous efforts failed. Join us at 8 and 10 p.m. ET for more.

UPDATE Watch Kyung Lah's report:

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Filed under: Crime & Punishment
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Juliette

    As people express outrage at the Indian lawyer who suggest that a woman was to blame for being gang raped and murdered because she was in public late at night, let's take some time to think of how pervasive rape culture is in North America. People still judge a woman by the length of her skirt, rather than the content of her character. "What was she thinking jogging in the park at night? A woman is a precious jewel who should hide her body the way you would hide a diamond. She's asking for it." are all comments that people (including women!) continue to justify. I am still looking for the conversation of what MEN are doing to refuse rape culture. However, in Canada we do have incredible men involved in the white ribbon campaign. Guys even go on a protest walk in high heels to raise awareness and money for combat gender-based violence. Its called "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes."

    January 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  2. Debra

    Look folks, it is pretty easy. The definition of RAPE in the most recognized dictionary "Merriam-Webster" is very clear.

    January 10, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  3. Carmen

    This is ridiculous. NO means NO, regardless of the woman's marital status.

    January 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  4. Lance Webster

    Here's a question – Is a woman ALLOWED to defend herself against rape? If so, and - and the NRA wishes - she has a gun for self defense, if her husband wants to have sex and she does not, and he insists, and she pulls out her handy gun and kills him, is that legal? OK all you NRA guys....better watch out.

    January 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  5. maureen

    As a woman and a canadian i see both of our countries have the same problem with the law. It is simply this women and children don't count! let's all try and change this.

    January 10, 2013 at 2:08 am |
  6. Dianne Rendon

    And yet another reason why a drastic overhaul and updating of the laws in all states and federal jurisdictions needs to take place.

    January 10, 2013 at 1:51 am |
  7. Mary Morehouse

    So its legal to rape a girl as long as she is not married? What a joke. What happened to any kind of common sense here. This judge should be ashamed of himself for this ruling. Way to go to put a price on all unmarried women's heads.

    January 9, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  8. Kevin

    So I don't understand, in 1872 it was only rape if you pretended to be the victims husband?

    January 9, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Jeremy

      No. It sounds like the theory of the crime that the prosecutor put forth was that the suspect used identity fraud to commit the act. Because the laws have not been updated the law only recognizes making the victim believe they are with their husband (I doubt the language is written in a way to protect men given the time it was written). If the suspect had used more aggressive force it be considered rape. However, because the prosecutor seems to have argued a fraud approach the judge couldn't uphold it because the statues don't recognize that a woman's capacity to consent to sex is diminished unless the suspect tries to pass himself off as her husband. Hopefully the prosecutor can find another angle to come at this case with, and also that California modifies its law so that if you try to pass yourself off as someone else to gain consent you can be convicted of rape.

      January 10, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  9. Teresa

    There are still states that have laws stating that you cannot be raped by your spouse. This is the equivalent of antiquated laws regarding spousal abuse. I believe the entire legal system and all of its details should be audited and then adjusted for not only civil reasons, but for some laws that violate basic human rights and limit the pursuit of happiness.

    January 9, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Jennifer

      Since 1995 all states in the United States have a Marital Rape law. They may read differently and have different circumstances – but there are laws protecting a spouse from being raped by their spouse.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  10. Frances

    This happened in America! It sounds more like India, Iran or Afghanistan! It's outrageous! Was it an all male jury? Surely a woman would never vote this way. I'm absolutely flabagasted & saddened at how little progress has been made with regards to violence against women & girls, even in our so called civilized societies. Mysogeny is still rampant – women are still considered to be lesser than men. This attitude has worked in men's favour for centuries & it suits them vey well to keep the status quo. I have little hope left that women will ever see justice – the Court used to blame rape victims for being in the 'wrong' place, wearing a short skirt or having a previous relationship etc. – hell, maybe they still do in places! It's so depressing to realise that male tyrany will always win over what is good & right & fair.

    January 9, 2013 at 2:38 am |

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