California toughens sex assault laws after Stanford case

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2016 3:02 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation to broaden the state's legal definition of rape to include other forms of sexual assault and mandate prison for rape of an unconscious victim, following a furor over a Stanford University sexual assault case.

One bill signed by Brown, a Democrat, changed California law to say prosecutors and juries may consider any sexual assault to be rape, including penetration with a foreign object.

State law had previously defined rape more narrowly, as non-consensual sexual intercourse.

Brown also signed a separate bill to place assault of an unconscious person on a list of sexual crimes for which judges are forbidden to grant probation or parole.

The governor in a signing statement said he usually opposes expanding the number of crimes with mandatory minimum statement.

But the legislation "brings a measure of parity to sentencing for criminal acts that are substantially similar," Brown wrote.

The two bills signed by the governor were passed by the state legislature following the uproar over the case of former Stanford University student Brock Turner.

This year, Turner was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman outside of a fraternity party in 2015, but received a six-month jail sentence instead of a lengthier prison term requested by prosecutors.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Mary Milliken)