Legal Semantics

In response to Michele Walter’s letter (“Downgrading Rape,” Aug. 16): As a frequent user of the bike paths and a woman, I completely agree that we need to make them safer. But part of her letter is factually incorrect and, well, facts matter — maybe now more than ever.

The term “Unlawful Sexual Penetration” (USP) is not a “downgrading” of a rape charge. USP and rape are different crimes, but both have the same sentencing guidelines and punishments. The charge is based on the facts of the individual case and does not in any way suggest that any agency is “downgrading a woman’s value as a human being.” It’s not “barbaric.”

Were the assailant prosecuted for rape when what he in fact committed was USP, a good defense attorney would have it reduced or even have his client cleared of charges and free before lunch. The charge is based on the victim’s statements, not what word is going to make people feel better.

There is enough misinformation and “alternative facts” out there that I think it’s important we avoid them if we want our views to be given credibility.

Karma Hunt


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