The exterior of the U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles, Calif.(Photo: Robyn Beck, AFP/Getty Images)
Because state law does not explicitly protect unmarried rape victims
from attackers pretending to be a boyfriend, a California appeals court
Thursday overturned a man's conviction for having sex with a sleeping
The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles ordered a
new trial for Julio Morales, who was convicted of raping a friend's
18-year-old sister in Cerritos after a party in February 2009. He was
sentenced to three years in prison.
Here's how the court's opinion framed the case:
man enters the dark bedroom of an unmarried woman after seeing her
boyfriend leave late at night, and has sexual intercourse with the woman
while pretending to be the boyfriend. Has the man committed rape?
Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition
of rape, the answer is no, even though, if the woman had been married
and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes.
first trial ended in a hung jury. Jurors in the second trial convicted
him of rape of an unconscious person after prosecutors told them they
could find him guilty under two conditions: either the victim was
sleeping, unconscious or not able to refuse sex, or else the attacker
misled her or lied about his identify. Under California law, however,
impersonation applies only if a woman is married.
appellate panel reversed the conviction, saying it "cannot discern from
this record whether the jury convicted defendant on the correct or
The opinion states that the law allows the
"continued existence of a separate provision that expressly makes sexual
intercourse by impersonation a rape, albeit only when the victim is
married and the perpetrator impersonates the victim's spouse."
we reluctantly hold that a person who accomplishes sexual intercourse
by impersonating someone other than a married victim?s spouse is not
guilty of the crime of rape of an unconscious person" under a provision
of state law, Justice Thomas Willhite wrote for the panel.
justices noted that state courts "have been inconsistent when
characterizing sex crimes involving impersonation" and that "there
appears to be little discussion in the legislative history" about what
the Legislature really intended.
For a report with a little more attitude, see the LA Weekly.