The state Senate on Friday approved a bill that would increase penalties for date rape as well as create new laws against the desecration of human bodies and aggravated child pornography possession. Sens. Jonathan Nichols, Jim Reynolds and James A. Williamson praised the Senate’s passage of the measure, and addressed the importance of providing protection for Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens.
Nichols, author of Senate Bill 1992, said there were three critical elements in the measure. The bill includes his language creating the crime of aggravated child pornography, which would result in a life prison term for anyone convicted of possessing 100 or more images of child pornography.
“These are people who peddle child pornography, and who collect and trade images. Each and every one of those images is graphic evidence of a horrible crime committed against a child, sometimes even infants,” Nichols said. “Locking these offenders in prison is the only way to stop them and protect our children from these predators.”
SB 1992 also includes language by Williamson to close a loophole in Oklahoma’s rape laws that came to light in recent months in a Tulsa County case. A male nurse gave sedatives to a female patient and then raped her, but prosecutors learned he could not be charged with first-degree rape, which carries a stronger sentence.
“Under current law, an individual convicted of date rape can only be charged with second-degree rape. This language ensures that even if a woman has been drugged or is intoxicated, the person who assaulted her will be charged with first-degree rape,” said Williamson, R-Tulsa.
The third component of the bill would, for the first time, make it a crime to desecrate a human body. Known as Jenny’s Law, Reynolds said a person convicted under this statute would face up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $8,000.
Reynolds explained the law is named for Jennifer Sipes, who was murdered and then her body was burned beyond recognition by her killer in the hopes of thwarting a positive identification.
“Her killer was charged and convicted for her murder. He was also convicted of arson because of the grass that burned around her body, but Jenny’s parents were distraught when they found he could not be charged for mutilating her corpse,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. “This is a heinous crime, and we ought to have a way of holding those who would do such a horrible thing accountable.”