Our View: Rape law needs change

Alaska is not providing the full protection of the law from sexual assault.

That needs to change, and you can read a powerful argument for that change in Val Van Brocklin's Compass piece.

The six-month sentence given to former probation officer James Stanton in September set off a flurry of protest. The facts of the case were not in dispute -- Stanton used the threat of return to jail or loss of children over failed drug tests to coerce women on probation to have sex with him.

By any reasonable person's lights, that's sexual assault. But not according to Alaska law. The sexual assault counts against Stanton were dismissed. He got six months for bribery and harassment.

That was legal. That was not justice.

What Van Brocklin recommends is something like the law in many states in the United States. Those laws boil down to this -- sexual assault occurs when consent is not given. Physical force and restraint are not the only kinds of force, as lawmakers in those states have come to understand, as victims have long understood, as anyone with common sense and a sense of decency can understand.

That's why the reaction to the Stanton sentencing was so strong. Alaskans knew that what he did was wrong and deserving of worse than a six-month slap on the wrist.

The law needs to change, and our lawmakers should accomplish that in the upcoming session.

A comprehensive non-consent law will offer wider legal protection against rape, and not allow sexual predators to get away with their violations. Such a stronger statute is long overdue.

Such a stronger statute would fortify Gov. Parnell's "Choose Respect" campaign to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Our law should reflect both respect and reality. A comprehensive non-consent law will.