Pohutsky Fights to Close Marital Rape Loophole

Bill would eliminate exception for cases where spouse is mentally incapacitated
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

LANSING — State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) introduced House Bill 4942 today to close a glaring loophole in Michigan’s Penal Code that permits marital rape when the perpetrator’s legal spouse is mentally incapacitated. State law currently precludes charges or convictions for criminal sexual conduct in such cases, leaving Michigan as one of the few remaining states to expressly allow marital rape in law.

“There is absolutely no excuse for allowing this reprehensible exemption to exist. If we want to really move Michigan into the 21st century, we have to throw out our 17th century laws,” said Pohutsky. “A law like this only empowers those who view their spouses as property, preventing justice for Michiganders who have already experienced unspeakable trauma. It’s time for us as a state to make it unequivocally clear that rape is rape in all circumstances.”

Michigan’s legal definition for “mentally incapacitated” includes instances where a spouse has been drugged or coerced and is unable to give consent. AEquitas, a national non-profit that serves as a resource for prosecutors, reported in April that as many as 17 states provide some form of exemption for spouses who rape their partners when they are drugged or otherwise incapacitated. Pohutsky’s fight to remove Michigan from that list has garnered significant bipartisan support with 61 members signing onto the bill as co-sponsors.

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