LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -A Lawton lawmaker is joining the fight to close a 'court-created loophole' that leaves some victims of sexual assault with no way to prosecute their attacker.
State Representative John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton, is on the list of co-authors on the bill spearheaded by Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha. The case in the middle of the controversial court ruling was in Tulsa County where a teenage boy forced a girl to perform oral sex. But the girl was heavily intoxicated, and says she doesn't remember a thing. The courts were asked to rule on whether the case should proceed. They said because being intoxicated or unconscious isn't specifically listed in the forceful sodomy law, it is not a crime, and dismissed the case.
The fact that defendants accused of sexual assault crimes could use this court ruling as a way to request their case be thrown out, denying the victim's voice to be heard, the clock is ticking.
"We're not going to put up with this kind of behavior," Montgomery said.
Montgomery says when he heard that the court's ruling created a loophole in the law, he called Biggs, who's a former prosecutor, and learned he already had the wheels turning for a way to make the law crystal clear.
"I mean, people can't believe this happened...and neither can I," Biggs said.
Biggs says this decision reversed 37 years of precedence on the consent issue in sexual assault cases.
"Ignored a case from 1979, went off on their own and basically took the consent issue out of the hands jury and placed it with the judge," Biggs said.
They took a bill already being crafted in the legislature to help victims of crimes and replaced the text with legislation that mirrors Oklahoma's rape law and further defined all terms of sexual assault so there is little room for interpretation.
"The courts say we were clear, and the legislature is going to be crystal clear that we want victims of sexual assault to be protected. We want them to have access to the justice system and we want them to seek the justice they deserve," Biggs said.
"The common sense was to say that this ruling should not have gone this way. You could deliberate strict interpretation and stuff like that, but for common sense we should probably adjust what the statutes say and move forward," Montgomery said.
Both lawmakers say they expect very little push back as this new bill goes through the House and Senate. They expect the bill to land on Gov. Mary Fallin's desk to sign by the end of the session.
The prosecutor on the case that was dismissed in Tulsa County says he could file a motion to ask the Appeals Court to revisit the decision. A reversal of the decision would be unlikely, because the court's ruling was unanimous.