Officials seek way to close rape loophole
BY NICOLE MARSHALL World Staff Writer
Sunday, April 13, 2008
An oversight in state law allows
less severe penalties for a rapist who
drugs his victim into unconsciousness before the attack, according to
Tulsa law enforcement officials.
But after a recent decision in the
case of a former nurse who is accused of raping a drugged hospital
patient, police and prosecutors are
seeking to change the law.
"Why is a victim any less of a victim if she has been rendered unconscious and unable to defend herself?" Tulsa Police Sgt. Gary Stansill asked.
Stansill spoke with Rep.
Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, about
amending the state law after a
former St. Francis Hospital
nurse accused of raping a patient was bound over for trial
on a reduced charge of
Olayinka Osifeso, 45, had
been charged with first-degree rape, but a judge found
that evidence presented during a preliminary hearing was
sufficient to support only a
second-degree rape charge.
Osifeso, through his attorney, maintains his innocence.
District Attorney Tim Harris said Osifeso was charged
with first-degree rape because
state law deems it appropriate
"where the victim was incapable through mental illness or
any other unsoundness of
mind, whether temporary or
permanent, of giving legal
However, legal debate during Osifeso's preliminary
hearing revealed that being
drugged and unconscious
does not fit the definition of
"unsoundness of mind."
Harris said that after further
review, prosecutors agreed
that Oklahoma law classifies
the circumstances in the case
as second-degree rape.
The state's definition of rape
includes cases "where a victim
is intoxicated by a narcotic or
anesthetic agent, administered by or with the privity of
the accused as a means of
forcing the victim to submit."
It also includes cases
"where the victim is at the
time unconscious of the nature of the act and this fact is
known to the accused."
However, those criteria are
not included in the definition
of first-degree rape, and that,
by default, makes them
A defendant who is convicted of first-degree rape faces
the possibility of life in prison.
A conviction on the second-degree charge, however,
would carry a 15-year maximum sentence, Harris said.
"If you are incoherent because a narcotic was given to
you, it takes away the ability to
consent. It implies that any
amount of force used to accomplish the act is unlawful
because the victim was not in
the state of mind to consent,"
Harris said prosecutors believe.
He said he hopes police and
prosecutors can work together with legislators to get the
"When we find things like
this that don't make sense,
let's all join together and make
it make sense," Harris said.
Peterson said she is interested in changing the law to
close the loophole.
"I am very interested in pursuing possible legislation next
session, (but) it is too late in
the process for this session,"
Peterson was the House author of a bill that allows people
to be prosecuted if they use
electronic equipment such as
cell phone cameras to capture
images of people's private areas in public places. The
"peeping Tom" bill is awaiting
the governor's signature.
"A person in a hospital bed
should feel safe. Just because
a person is unconscious in a
hospital bed does not change
anything. Rape is rape," Peterson said.
Nicole Marshall 581-8459
Osifeso: The nurse
is now facing a
rape charge for
allegedly raping a
patient at St.