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CNN - Op-Ed | Lessons of the Oklahoma Assault Case

(04/29/2016) Editor's Note: Jennifer Gentile Long is chief executive officer of AEquitas: The Prosecutors' Resource on Violence Against Women, which receives funding from the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance, training and publications on issues related to sexual violence. The views expressed are her own.

(CNN) A ruling by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals that the state's forcible sodomy statute did not apply to the assault of victims too intoxicated to consent has prompted widespread bewilderment and even outrage. Hopefully, it will also spark change that might better help victims of sexual assault.

Perpetrators of sexual assaults will often use alcohol and drugs to facilitate their crimes by openly or surreptitiously intoxicating their victims, or by targeting potential victims who are already too intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol to consent. [ . . . ]

The problem that the Oklahoma decision highlights is that there is a "gap" in legislation protecting victims who are preyed upon by assailants prepared to exploit their impaired condition with respect to only certain types of criminal penetration. This unfortunate reality appears to have been recognized, with Rep. Scott Biggs promising action to address what he described as "court-created loophole."

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