September 23, 2019

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Washington Supreme Court Considers Burden of Proof in Rape Cases

3/20/2014

Legal Voice joined with other organizations serving sexual assault survivors to file an amicus brief urging the Washington Supreme Court to reject imposing additional requirements of proof in rape cases.


This issue was presented to the Court in the case of State v. W.R., which was argued today. The defendant was convicted of second-degree rape by forcible compulsion. One question raised in the case is whether the State must not only prove forcible compulsion by the defendant, but must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim did not consent.


Legal Voice joined an amicus brief filed by the Sexual Violence Law Center, the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, and the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. The amicus brief argued that the law requires the State to prove the defendant’s use of forcible compulsion, and does not impose an additional requirement for the State to prove the victim’s lack of consent.


The brief emphasized that adding such a requirement would improperly shift the focus in rape cases to the victim’s conduct, rather than the assailant’s conduct. This would turn back the clock on Washington rape laws by scrutinizing the actions of the victim instead of the actions of the defendant, which would open the door for victim-blaming and reliance on myths about rape.


The brief was written by Emily Cordo of the Sexual Violence Law Center and Rebecca Roe of Schroeter Goldmark & Bender.

 

More

- Read the brief

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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