Title: Rape II
Author: Leigh Bienen
Publisher: Women’s Rights Law Reporter
Issue: Volume 3, Issues 3 and 4, pp. 90-137
Description: This is the second of a special two-part survey of rape laws in the United States. Rape I, published in the Women’s Rights Law Reporter (December 1976), consisted of commentary on the legislative history of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania rape statutes, federal laws regarding rape and recent Supreme Court decisions. Rape II consists primarily of a chart of the rape laws, a proposed model statute and an analysis of recent statutory changes.
The chart was compiled while the author was a research attorney at the Center for Rape Concern at Philadelphia General Hospital in 1975-76. It began as an attempt to set out recent pro-victim reforms. As research continued, the author found that it was impossible to understand the new laws without understanding the statutory structure of existing sex offense laws. The chart was designed to simplify and summarize an area of the law which is developing very rapidly.
The attempt to publish an up-to-date compilation was optimistic at best, and perhaps foolhardy. In terms of details no publication, not even the pocket parts of the annotated statutes, can ever be completely up-to-date. For example, West Virginia and Wisconsin enacted new statutes as we were going to press. Wisconsin’s was received in time to include in the chart; West Virginia’s was not. Neither is included in the analysis of recent changes. However, this up to the minute quality is perhaps the least important aspect of the chart. Rather, as the chart developed and became refined through several edited versions, it became clear that it would be most useful as a guide to the extraordinarily varied types of statutes.
The model statute grew out of research on the chart and was drafted with the explicit intent of incorporating a variety of reforms favorable to victims. It was also written as a bill to be introduced in states where reform of the sex offense statutes has not yet taken place. For this reason the model statute does not deal with sentencing, penalties or with other related areas of the law such as prostitution and child abuse.
The chart is intended to answer specific questions and to allow for structural comparisons. Detailed analyses and state by state cross references were not attempted, although recent trends are summarized. While we would have liked to have included such analyses, neither time nor space permitted. Instead our concern was to set out the law as accurately and comprehensively as possible. We hope our readers find that the considerable effort involved is of use to them…