MISSOULA – A new Montana rape law is making the definition of consent much clearer, according to Missoula Deputy County Attorney Suzy Boylan.
Supporters of the new state law say the old statute did not take into account the victim’s natural reaction to freeze during an attack, instead of fighting back.
“Well, before without consent was force or a victim who was in a position of being incapable of giving consent because of age or because of extreme intoxication or physical helplessness,” Boylan said. “What those statues didn’t catch were the victims who were freezing and not saying really “yes or no” and offenders take advantage of that.”
As of Oct. 1, Montana law changed the definition of consent to have sex. The presence of “yes,” physically or verbally, is now required to have consensual sex. The absence of “no” does not mean that a person wants to have sex. That’s a big change from when the old law was written, which did not take into account new information about how victims respond during and after an assault, or any unwanted sexual contact.
“We have a definition that I think is clearer for everyone. It’s not just for the criminal Justice System. I mean, it’s for everyone,” Boylan said.
Part of the language of this bill comes from the Uniform of Code of Military Justice, stating clothing and previous relationships are not indicative of consent.