You may already be familiar with this story: how one of Stanford’s favorite sons of the swim team has been accused of raping a young woman at a party on campus. The incident occurred last month when, in the early hours of the morning, 2 male graduate students were biking by a fraternity party when they noticed something they thought was strange, a man appeared to be having sex with a woman on the ground, in between a garbage can and a tree. Perhaps they would have continued on and looked the other way, but the grad students believed that the woman was unconscious at the time and so stopped, restrained her alleged attacker, and waited for local law enforcement officials to arrive. It is important to note that the young woman was taken to a hospital, where she remained unconscious for a number of hours before awakening to find that she did not remember most of the evening. Her would-be attacker maintains his innocence, claiming that their interaction was completely consensual and that he was also intoxicated at the time of the occurrence. The former member of the Stanford swim team has pled not guilty to 5 felony counts of rape.
California, as many other states, defines rape as any sexual intercourse that is not consensual; this includes, of course, times when an individual is not conscious and, thereby, is not able to consent (CA Penal Code 261). In fact, it is important to note that any rape charge in California is considered to be a felony and a conviction for such a crime has serious consequences. For example, the young man mentioned above could spend up to 10 years in prison for having had sex with an unconscious woman if convicted. Others may find themselves spending up to 8 years in state prison, paying a $10,000 fine, and a strike on their record.