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Appeals Court Ruling Inspires Legislation To Change Oklahoma Sexual Assault Laws

The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office filed sodomy and rape charges against a 17-year-old boy in April 2015. The case was ultimately rejected.
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The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office filed sodomy and rape charges against a 17-year-old boy in April 2015. The case was ultimately rejected.

During a meeting of the House Conference Committee on Criminal Justice and Corrections on Wednesday, state Rep. Scott Biggs introduced a bill that would close a loophole in Oklahoma’s forcible sodomy law.

In March, criminal charges were dropped against a 17-year-old boy who was accused of forcing an intoxicated female classmate to perform oral sex.

“The Conference Committee report on House Bill 2398 deals with the embarrassment that Oklahoma suffered last week as the result of an improper court ruling that allowed a rapist to walk free,” Biggs said.

Lawmakers moved quickly after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals said in a unanimous ruling that while Oklahoma's rape law addresses unconscious or intoxicated victims, the forcible sodomy law does not.

"This is an issue that popped up late in session that has to be addressed,” Biggs said. “The simple fact here is we have a court who refused to follow case precedents from 1979-1990, who refused to just used basic common sense."

The Chickasha Republican and former prosecutor says he expects lawmakers to support the measure, which also expands the definitions of “consent” and "sexual assault.”

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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