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Utah representative apologizes, clarifies comments he made on sexual assault bill

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Posted at 12:59 PM, Feb 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-04 22:51:25-05

SALT LAKE CITY – Rep. Brian Greene is now clarifying the comments he made Tuesday on a sexual assault bill.

On Wednesday, Rep. Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, sent Fox 13 this statement:

“There are comments I made in a committee meeting yesterday for HB74 that have been taken out of context and have allowed my intentions to be misinterpreted. I’m sorry for any unintended pain that my statements have caused.

I abhor sexual assault under any circumstances, including within marriage. Currently, under Utah law, sex with an unconscious person without consent is rape. I was concerned about a change in statutory language that would remove the element of consent and might have some unintended consequences.  I was attempting to clarify the issue through the committee’s discussion.

From the beginning I supported the intent of this bill and voted for it as it passed unanimously out of committee.  I strongly support closing any loopholes that allow offenders to evade prosecution and I believe this bill does that.”

Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, who sponsored the bill, told FOX 13’s Ben Winslow that Greene spoke to her on Wednesday and “expressed regret for his poor choice of words.” Romero said she did not have any hard feelings.

Lawmakers debated House Bill 74 Tuesday, which aims to alter Utah’s criminal code for sexual assault.

Rep. Romero said the goal of the bill is to define when a person consents to sexual activity and when a person does not.

The suggested changes to current law drew some opposition, especially when it came to the removal of consent when someone is unconscious.

Rep. Greene said Tuesday: “I’m not trying at all to justify sexual activity with an unconscious person. It’s abhorrent to me, but do we as a body, a legislative body, want to make that rape in every instance?”

Green explained he did not like the idea of defining rape as having intercourse with an unconscious person.

“It looks to me now like sex with an unconscious person is by definition rape,” Greene said. “I hope this wouldn’t happen, but this opens the door to it — a individual has sex with their wife while she is unconscious, or the other way around if that is possible, but a prosecutor could then charge that spouse with rape.”

Despite Greene’s concerns, he and the committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill.

Utah lawmakers question if sex with an unconscious person is rape