Know the limits or pay the price

In September, I was asked by our Sexual Assault Unit to publish some anti-rape information in my newsletter, so I briefly covered what I am going to write about in more depth with this article. I chose this topic as there are numerous bars in the Marina District and we have recently completed a police report of suspected rape from a bar in the area. One particular group of initial strangers spent hours drinking together, and the next day two women woke up not remembering anything but believing that they had been raped. I am not saying that there is a problem in the Marina, but this is an opportune time to educate those that may frequent the local bars. We all like to go out and party with new and old friends, but we should understand the limits while we are still sober.

Most of us know what the legal definition of rape is, but not everyone knows that you can get up to eight years in prison for having sex with someone that is too intoxicated (from alcohol or drugs) to give permission for consensual sex 261(3) of the California Penal Code). Rape by intoxication is a serious felony that, if convicted, requires lifetime registration as a sexual offender. If a woman is wasted, intoxicated, asleep, or unconscious, she cannot give legal consent, no matter what she says to you. The most affected demographic are 18- to 28-year-old white females.

Protect yourself by staying with trusted friends at all times. Do not accept alcohol from strangers. Open your drink yourself. Plan ahead for how you are going to get home. Never leave an intoxicated friend alone, and call 911 if you suspect severe alcohol poisoning.

If you are a victim, call 911 if the crime just happened. Talk with parents, teachers and counselors, or call a crisis hotline to get help. Preserve any evidence by not bathing, so that DNA evidence may possibly be collected. Most important, understand that your victimization is not your fault, and seek any and all help that you may need.

San Diego County created a website to educate the public about this growing crime, as they saw a 60 percent increase in reported incidents in just one year. I don’t have the numbers for San Francisco, but with all our clubs, bars, event centers, etc., I would guess the percentage is pretty similar. I got much of this information from the San Diego website and I would encourage you and others to visit it to get an even better understanding of the law:

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