BOISE — A quirk in Idaho law that prevented an unmarried woman from pressing rape charges after she was tricked into having sex with a man she didn't know could be changed in the 2011 Legislature.
Idaho law says that a rape charge can be filed if a woman is tricked into believing the person committing the act is her husband. But the rape-by-fraud statute doesn't protect the unwed.
"It's just a really bizarre statute," said Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women in Washington, D.C. "A woman is raped whether she has a ring on her finger or not."
Republican Denton Darrington, chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee, told The Associated Press that he wants to fix the statute so that it includes both married and unmarried victims.
"I'm going to make an attempt to fix it," Darrington told the AP. "I have legislation."
The law came under scrutiny last month when an Idaho judge dismissed rape charges against two Boise men in a decision that hinged on the victim's status as an unmarried woman.
Police say the woman had been drinking the night of July 21 when she had sex with her then-boyfriend, Zachary McGraw. Police say the woman was later tricked by her boyfriend into sex again with another man, Cielo Sanchez, whom she didn't know before that night.
The woman ended the encounter when she realized Sanchez was not her boyfriend. She later called police.
Both men were arrested later that month and indicted by a grand jury in August.
District Judge Cheri Copsey called what happened "despicable" during a Nov. 17 hearing but said Idaho law left her no choice but to dismiss charges of rape and the aiding and abetting of a rape.
Copsey admonished state lawmakers for not updating the Idaho code.
A change to include all victims, and not just spouses, should be a simple fix, Darrington said.
"All you do is insert another sentence," he said. "It's a fix that could be doable,"
The change is not expected to affect many cases.
Contributing: John Miller