Mr. Kevin Stitt,
I am writing to you today to report an injustice that has been left unpunished by a state court in Oklahoma, and to speak in defense of victims of rape and sexual assault.
According to Statista, Oklahoma reported 2,268 cases of forcible rape in 2019, and the number of examinations performed to collect evidence of sexual assault rose by 13% in 2018 over 2017. However, despite a significant increase in reports, the number of cleared rape cases dropped by 44% over the last two decades. According to the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center, rape survivors are 6.2 times more likely to develop PTSD than women who have never been victims of crime. One-third of rape victims said they seriously considered suicide, and survivors are generally 26 times more likely to have two or more drug abuse problems. The consequences of rape are real, and the trauma will haunt victims forever.
In April 2016, an Oklahoma court examined the case of a 17-years-old boy who assaulted a girl after agreeing to drive her home. The pair has been partying with a group of friends in a Tulsa Park, and the hospital later reported that the 16-years-old victim had a blood alcohol content above 0.34. The girl said she did not remember anything after leaving the park, but the defendant’s DNA was found on the victim’s body and mouth. However, the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that “Forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation.”
In one decision, the highest criminal court of Oklahoma made oral rape legal.
According to Oklahoma’s consent laws, rape is defined as “an act of sexual intercourse involving vaginal or anal penetration […] where the victim is intoxicated by a narcotic or anesthetic agent, administered by or with the privity of the accused as a means of forcing the victim to submit” (Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1111(A)(5)). It takes place when the victim is “unconscious of the nature of the act and this fact is known to the accused.” (Okla. Stat. tit. 21, § 1111(A)(4))
It means that the 2016 ruling put the blame on the victim for consuming drugs or alcohol on her own, rather than condemning the attacker for taking advantage of someone in a vulnerable state. This case set an unacceptable example and can have harmful consequences for future legal decisions across the United States. Harm has already been done in 2021, when a Minnesota court ruled that a man could not be charged for rape or sexual assault if the victim chose to drink beforehand. Are we taking a step back from all the work that has been done to protect wen and women from sexual violence? Next time, should we officially change the meaning of consent, or revoke the law recognizing marital rape? After all, it seems that we are willing to make concessions for rapists, while actively denying women’s right not to be assaulted.
Women of the United States want to modify Oklahoma’s statute regarding sexual assault and add oral violation to the list of offenses. As for today, forcible sodomy laws in Oklahoma only protect people with disability or mental illness, not those who are unconscious or intoxicated. This ruling was clearly in violation of the state law, and allowing this decision to stay in records is an insult to every person who believes in Justice, Human Rights, and Gender Equality.
As a governor, as a husband, and as a father, you need to help create a world that is safer for victims and where the law works for the interests of the people. Protect the leaders of tomorrow.