So you've seen the buzz on social media and are asking, did the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals really rule that it isn’t sodomy if a person is intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness?
The ruling came down recently, but a story by The Guardian, a UK-based publication, has gone viral on social media this week and has people wondering if it is true.
The Guardian's story was based the original reporting of Oklahoma Watch, which we feature frequently on NewsOn6.com. Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit organization that focuses on investigative journalism within the state.
The state appeals court handed down its ruling on the issue just weeks ago, and it stemmed from a Tulsa County rape case.
Prosecutors say a teen girl was intoxicated and unconscious when a teen boy dropped her off at her grandmother's house in November 2014. The grandmother took her to authorities, and a rape examination was completed. According to the state, the boy's DNA was found on her, Oklahoma Watch reports. Prosecutors said another boy who had been in the car at one point said when he was dropped off, the girl was drifting in and out of consciousness and could not walk.
Although Oklahoma’s rape law says a rape can occur when the victim is intoxicated or unconscious, the forcible sodomy law does not contain that language.
According to Oklahoma Watch:
"In an interview with police, the defendant said the victim engaged in consensual oral sex with him and it was her idea. The girl told officers she could not remember anything after being at the park.
Prosecutors initially charged the boy with first-degree rape and forcible oral sodomy, but because there was no evidence showing he had raped the girl, that charge was dismissed.
Tulsa County District Court Judge Patrick Pickerill [who also is a judge in Pawnee County] dismissed the forcible oral sodomy charge, stating unconsciousness and intoxication are not present in the law’s definition of the crime."
Tulsa County assistant district attorney Benjamin Fu, also the director of the office's special victims unit, said he does not blame the Legislature for not addressing the issue earlier; rather he blames the court’s interpretation of the statute, Oklahoma Watch reported.
"Fu called the court’s interpretation 'insane,' 'dangerous' and 'offensive.' He said the court had the authority and precedent to determine that the Legislature intended to include intoxication and unconsciousness in the sodomy law. As a comparison, Fu referred to the fact that an intruder who enters the unlocked door of a home can be still charged with breaking and entering."
To read the decision by the appeals court that upheld Judge Pickerill’s decision in the Tulsa County sodomy case, click here to read the original story by Oklahoma Watch.