In the case, which was decided Wednesday, the California state court of appeals interpreted a rape statute written in 1872. The wording of the statute provided that "rape-by-impersonation" applies only to someone impersonating a husband. Impersonating anyone else -- the victim's boyfriend, girlfriend or even wife -- does not give rise to rape if the sex act is otherwise consensual.
According to court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times:
the alleged rapist "entered a sleeping woman's dark bedroom after her boyfriend walked out and began having intercourse with her. The woman screamed and resisted when she awoke and realized [the alleged rapist] was not her boyfriend.
The court reluctantly overturned the man's conviction, and then called upon the state legislature to update the archaic law to "correct the incongruity that exists when a man may commit rape … when impersonating a husband, but not when impersonating a boyfriend." A spokeswoman for Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris said her office was also studying the decision and had no immediate comment.
Archaic sex laws are often fodder for humorists. For example:
In Alexandria, Minn., it is illegal for a man to have sex with his wife if he reeks of garlic, onions or sardines. Across the border in Connorsville, Wis., a law prohibits a man from shooting off a gun when his female partner reaches orgasm. And down in Ames, Iowa, no husband is allowed to have more than three gulps of beer while in bed or cuddling with his spouse.
In this case, however, an outdated, misogynistic law resulted in a rape that can never be punished.
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