Senator Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) announced today that they are jointly authoring legislation to further strengthen California's laws against rape. The legislation is in direct response to the recent case in Shasta County, where a police officer was given a 1-year plea bargain for raping a suspect in his custody.
Former Anderson police officer Bryan Benson was given a maximum 1-year sentence for kidnapping and raping a woman he was taking to jail in 2010. The Shasta County District Attorney's office claims they were unable to fully prosecute Benson because of a perceived "loophole" in the current Penal Code despite the victim's insistence that she did not consent and the fact that she was under arrest for being intoxicated.
"It is unconscionable that anyone could receive a 1-year sentence for committing such a heinous act," stated Assemblyman Nielsen. "It is even more troubling that the person committing this act is a peace officer. Anyone convicted of rape should be behind bars for a very long time, not sitting at home with an ankle bracelet. Senator LaMalfa and I will continue to work on this issue, to make sure that this sort of injustice never happens again."
LaMalfa and Nielsen will introduce the legislation when the State Legislature reconvenes in January.
"I am frustrated that the District Attorney would accept this plea bargain and deny the victim, and the public, the justice they rightly deserve," said Senator LaMalfa. "To see someone who has obviously committed a serious crime walking the streets with such a light sentence is a slap in the face. Assemblyman Nielsen and I will work to craft a law to prevent any future misinterpretations of this statute."