News Column

Bill Classifies Sex Among Certain Churchgoers and Staff as Rape

Feb 6, 2013

Barbara Hoberock

A Senate panel on Tuesday passed a measure that would classify sex between some parishioners and church employees and volunteers as rape.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also passed a measure that would allow prosecutors to file murder charges against a person if someone dies as the result of meth manufacturing.

Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, is the author of Senate Bill 175. The measure would classify sex involving a victim who is at least 16 but younger than 20 years old as rape if it occurs with a church employee or volunteer, even if the sex were consensual.

"It would only apply if an adult person were acting as an employee or volunteer in position of authority at the time," Griffin said.

The proposal would mimic a rape statute already on the books involving school personnel and minors, she said.

Griffin said the measure would target a method called "grooming," where a person seeks employment to have access to adolescents.

Senators had several questions about the measure.

Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, said the measure needed to be clarified to ensure that it would apply to intercourse that takes place away from church facilities, such as at a slumber party.

Griffin agreed to work with Crain on the wording to clarify the measure. The bill passed by a vote of 8-0.

The Judiciary Committee also passed SB 942 by Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore.

The measure would allow prosecutors to file first-degree murder charges in the event that a fire from a meth lab resulted in a death.

Sykes said the measure was a request from a prosecutor.

"When our felony murder laws were written, no one had ever anticipated the creation of a drug like meth and the serious threat it poses to individuals and to society," he said.

"Updating our laws gives prosecutors the tools they need to ensure dangerous criminals are held fully accountable."

The measure passed by a vote of 8-0.

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



Source: (c) 2013 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.)