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Gov. Cuomo said reforming New York Penal Code to close a rape law loophole will be a priority in the upcoming legislative session
“That is something we’re looking at very seriously to propose in January,” Cuomo said regarding closing the voluntary intoxication loophole
Alessandra Biaggi's bill would close the loophole by removing voluntary intoxication of the victim as a possible defense for accused rapists
After an I-Team investigation revealed a gap in the New York Penal Code that could allow rapists off the hook when victims are drunk, Gov. Cuomo said reform will be a priority in the upcoming legislative session.
“That is something we’re looking at very seriously to propose in January,” Cuomo said, when asked if he supports closing what’s known as the voluntary intoxication loophole.
Cuomo made the comment at a news conference with members of the Times Up movement — moments before he signed legislation that increases the statute of limitations for filing 2nd and 3rd degree rape complaints.
Last Spring, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance sent Cuomo a letter, highlighting the frustration prosecutors have when victims file rape complaints after drinking alcohol.
“Under current law, a voluntarily intoxicated individual is not considered ‘mentally incapacitated,’ even if he or she were unable to control his or her conduct due to that intoxication,” the letter reads. “Therefore, prosecutors cannot bring sex crime charges in cases where the victim became voluntarily intoxicated and was unable to consent.”
After the seeing the I-Team that revealed Vance’s letter, State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D–Bronx and Westchester) introduced Senate Bill S6679, which seeks to close the loophole — by removing voluntary intoxication of the victim as a potential defense for accused rapists.
Though Cuomo said he is interested in the concept of closing the loophole, he stopped short of endorsing Biaggi’s bill.
“The devil is in the details,” Cuomo said. “I get the question and get the possible remedy, but you have to then see it with all the details and that’s what we are looking at for January.”
Biaggi said she looks forward to working with the Governor’s Office on the reform.
“I’m glad Governor Cuomo thinks this is a priority, and I hope his office reaches out if there are concerns or they want to discuss the details of the bill,” Biaggi said. “My door is always open."