ST. GEORGE — A 56-year-old man was arrested and charged Sunday with a first-degree felony, among other charges, for allegedly forcing his 44-year-old wife to have oral sex. If prosecuted and convicted of the charge, the man could serve life in prison without parole.
Officers responded to the Emergency Room of Dixie Medical Center in St. George on the report of a rape, according to a probable cause statement filed by the St. George Police Department in support of the arrest.
The woman told detectives that her husband put his fingers into her private parts against her will and that she repeatedly told him to stop, the statement read. The woman said her husband then forced her to have oral sex.
After the first incident occurred, the report stated, the woman told authorities her husband came back into her room and pulled her pants down and began performing oral sex on her.
According to the statement, an 11-year-old son, who was reportedly asleep in the room at the time, awoke during the incident and allegedly heard his mother say “no” and “stop.”
When police tried to speak with the woman’s husband, he declined to talk with officers about the incident and requested an attorney.
The man was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility on charges of first-degree felony forcible sodomy for forcing the woman to have oral sex, second-degree felony forcible sexual abuse for touching the woman’s genitalia against her will and class A misdemeanor lewdness involving a child.
In Utah, a first-degree felony charge carries a penalty of five years to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; a second-degree felony charge carries a penalty of one to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; and a class A misdemeanor charge carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 fine.
Thus, if convicted, the man could potentially face at least five years in prison and up to life in prison without parole, along with a $22,500 fine.
According to Utah Court records, the woman filed for a temporary protective order against her husband in May 2010 but requested to have the protective order dismissed seven days later.
Wife rape and marital sexual abuse
“Wife Rape is the term used to describe sexual acts committed without a person’s consent and/or against a person’s will by a woman’s husband or ex-husband,” according to Patricia Mahoney with the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center.
In the United States, prior to the mid-1970s marital rape was exempted from ordinary rape laws and included a “marital exemption,” allowing a husband to rape his wife without any legal consequences.
However, courts began striking down the marital exemption as unconstitutional and, by 1993, all states had withdrawn the marital rape exemptions. Now, the law no longer distinguishes between married and unmarried perpetrators and victims.
According to Utah law, just as rape between strangers or acquaintances is illegal, marital rape, occurring between spouses, is also illegal.
While the punishment for rape is the same for spouses who rape as it is for other offenders, in many cases, it is often harder for a spouse to prove they didn’t consent to their spouse than it would be to prove non-consent with a stranger.
Rape is the only violent crime in Utah that occurs at a higher rate than the rest of the nation, according to the Utah Department of Health. One in 3 Utah women will experience some type of sexual assault in their lifetime and 1 in 8 will be raped.
“In 2008, Utah’s reported rape rate was 63.7 per 100,000 females compared to the U.S. rate of 57.4 per 100,000 females,” according to the Utah Department of Health. “However, the majority of rapes (88.2 percent) are never reported to law enforcement, indicating that sexual violence in Utah is grossly underestimated.”
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Ed. note: Washington County Bookings information originally indicated the man a resident of Ivins; that information has been updated to indicate him a resident of St. George and the headline has been updated Jan. 13 accordingly.
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