Major loophole in an Oklahoma rape law will soon close

Lawton_A major loophole in an Oklahoma rape law will soon close.  Currently, any accused rapist whose victim is raped by force or fear can be charged with rape in the first-degree.  Oddly, if the rapist drugs his victim first, or if the victim is unconscious, the accused faces a lesser charge of second-degree rape because the victim is considered incapacitated.

Attorneys say the law doesn't make sense, and lawmakers agree.  "As the law stands now, to have sex with someone that's incapacitated it's rape second [degree] 1-15 years," says Comanche County District Attorney Robert Schulte.  State lawmakers claim that changing the law could mean the difference between life, or 15 years in prison.  "If five to life is not a deterrent, it should be," says Schulte.

Schulte says he believes that the emergence of date rape drugs made the loophole more obvious.  "Generally, you've got force or fear, or someone being overpowered, or you have an age difference that warrants a rape charge," he says.  Although date rape drugs may have opened lawmakers eyes to the problem, the new law will allow the charge of first-degree rape when a victim is drugged or unconscious through alcohol or drugs.  "Incapacitated period," says Schulte.  "It does not have to be through a date rape drug."

For the sake of the victim, attorneys want this harsher sentence, because the victims carry the trauma with them, and knowing the rapist will be severely punished may help him or her feel that justice has been served.

A spokesman for Governor Brad Henry says that he believes the bill will be signed this Thursday or Friday, and confirms that the Governor will definitely be signing it.  A charge of first-degree rape also carries the requirement of 85% time served in prison - a second-degree charge does not.