No matter where you reside, rape is considered a serious offense. In far too many cases, however, victims of rape are discouraged from going after their attackers because of misplaced shame and an inability to prove what has happened to them. In a case that has the potential for far-reaching legal consequences when it comes to how rape is treated, especially on college campuses throughout the United States, 2 football players from Vanderbilt University were convicted of the gang-rape of a young woman while she lay unconscious. Two other players were involved, but have not yet been to trial. All the men involved claim that they were too drunk at the time of the incident to understand what they were actually participating in.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, rapes on college campuses are highly underreported, only approximately 80% of rapes are actually reported to the authorities. However, because the assailants used a cellular phone to record the occurrence, it made it impossible for them to be considered innocent, especially as the court was able to hear laughter in the background while the rape was occurring. Additionally, the video showed that the victim remained unconscious throughout.
While the Vandy players are looking at a hefty sentence for their crimes in Tennessee, nothing much different would have happened had the rape happened in California (CA Penal Code 261). Here, rape is defined as any non-consensual sex that involves the use of trickery, threats, or some type of force, including a situation in which the victim is so drunk that they have passed out. Although it is true that there exist cases of false accusation of rape, allegations are still taken seriously by prosecutors. Rape is always a felony in California. Anyone convicted of this crime could find himself or herself facing up to 8 years in state prison (or more if the victim has sustained serious physical injuries) and responsible for a $10,000 fine.