The FBI, Jordan Duchnycz, and Brock Turner: Defining rape in America
In America, rape laws are determined by each state. In 2013, the FBI’s UCR Program amended their definition of rape significantly, many states have not. In Oregon and California, Jordan Duchnycz and Brock Turner were not prosecuted for rape despite their admissions of guilt because their definitions were less comprehensive than the FBI’s.
Defining rape in America
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program amended their definition of rape in 2013 to read:
“Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
This definition is gender neutral and includes all forms of sexual penetration, including penetration with a foreign object. The “legacy definition” included only “force” against a woman as a cause of rape, but this new definition is gender neutral, acknowledges all forms of sexual penetration, includes penetration with a foreign object, and includes more causes than just force including:
- Distribution of intoxicating substances or drugs
- Psychological coercion
- Emotional duress
- Prior physical or sexual assault or abuse
- Threats of harm or punishment to another (e.g. a teacher failing a student or a boss threatening to fire a worker if they don’t agree to sexual intercourse)
- All other acts which remove a victim’s ability to consent.
The FBI UCR definition of rape is used for statistical purposes. It suggests no minimum sentences nor does it establish a statute of limitations. States are offered their definition to use in their law, but none are required to do so.
Each state creates their own definition of rape, determines proper sentencing requirements, and establishes their own statue of limitations. Inadequacies in state definitions of rape have permitted individuals like Jordan Duchnycz and Brock Turner to evade formal charges of rape despite admissions from both.
Rape in Oregon
Jordan Duchnycz is the Creator of Spirit Science, an animated educational series about spirituality and religion on YouTube with over 650,000 subscribers.
Three months after posting his first video, he coerced a woman in emotional duress to have sex with him.
(Oregon highlighted on map of America. Credit: http://www.myonlinemaps.com/oregon.php)
A story of coercion
Duchnycz approached his victim as she laid alone in a room.In the pretext call, she states, “…I didn’t want to be touched. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I wanted to be alone.”
Duchnycz didn’t listen. In a pretext call recorded in cooperation with the Portland Police Department, he admits that he forced her head to face his, uncrossed her arms from her chest, removed clothing from both of their bodies, and began kissing various parts of her head, torso, and genitals as part of a “chakra healing.”
He then asked if she wanted to have sex. Though she resisted, he persisted until she was crying and unable to resist any longer.
In the second pretext call, he admits to raping her.
A confused denial
In an open letter to his victim he confirms that he admitted to rape in the conversation but that he didn’t mean it. He was only trying to tell his victim what she wanted to hear: “I should have said “you felt raped”, [sic] as this is more accurate to my understanding of what happened…”
He alleges the he asked her to have sex once and was rejected once. After thirty minutes later, he asserts that he asked a second time and that his victim consented.
Yet, in the first pretext call, Duchnycz stated “Yes, I asked a million times. And, yes, you said ‘no’ a million times.”
The victim alleges that she was crying before, during, and after the rape.
Duchnycz denies this: “[She was] not in tears during this activity…had this been the case, it simply would not have happened.”
However, in the pretext calls, Duchnycz stated, “I didn’t know what you were crying about. I thought there was something bothering you because you were, because you were…I, I… Look, I don’t know.”
A portion of the first pretext call can be found here.
A crime without definition
On February 27, 2017, the District Attorney of Portland, Oregon refused to charge Duchnycz for rape. Police were prepared to arrest Duchnycz at the Atlanta airport and already had warrants prepared when the DA decided against taking the case.
The State of Oregon defines three degrees of rape.
The first includes rape by physical force or where the individual is under 12 years of age (or 16 if the individual is a child, spouse’s child, or sibling), mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.
Second and third-degree rape reference only age.
Unlike the FBI UCR definition which is open to all forms of behavior that negate consent, rape is caused under 5 specific conditions:
- Physical force is used
- A person is under a certain age
- The victim has a mental defect
- The victim is mentally incapacitated
- The victim is physically helpless and unable to flee
Coercion and duress are not included.
Brock Turner in California
Approximately 700 miles south and three years later, Brock Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious and intoxicated woman behind a dumpster near Stanford University. When interviewed, he admitted to sexually penetrating the woman’s vagina with his fingers. He was indicted with five felonies on January 28, 2015 but two formal counts of rape were dropped on October 7.
(Stanford, California, where Stanford University is located. Credit: http://www.epodunk.com/cgi-bin/genInfo.php?locIndex=259434)
Convicted on three felonious sex charges, Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in county jail despite a recommendation of six years in prison by the People. Turner served only half of the sentence because of “good behavior.”
The California legislature responds
Like Oregon, California’s legal definition of rape lacked the comprehensiveness of the FBI UCR’s. Digital rape was not included in the definition at the time of conviction.
On September 30, 2016 Assembly Bill 701 was passed to broaden California’s definition of rape to include digital rape. On the same day, Assembly Bill 2888 was passed to provide for a mandatory minimum three-year prison sentence to those convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious or intoxicated person.
The California legislature responded to this case by ensuring that future cases of digital rape will be prosecuted as such and that those who sexually assault an unconscious or intoxicated person will serve more than 3 months in a county jail.
There are many differences between these two cases. Turner was convicted in California whereas Duchnycz committed his crimes in Oregon without conviction. Where Turner sexually assaulted an unconscious and intoxicated woman, Duchnycz ’s victim was awake and alert but under emotional duress.
(Credit: http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/01/us/brock-turner-release/index.html; http://thespiritscience.net/tags/jordan/)
Despite these differences, both Oregon and California failed to charge either for rape despite admissions from both. Under the comprehensive and open FBI UCR, both could have been charged.
California amended their laws on rape and sexual assault to increase its comprehensive scope and include mandatory minimum sentences. Oregon has yet to make such amendments. Their definition still lacks the comprehensiveness of the FBI UCR’s and permits charges of rape only under specific circumstances. Not all causes of rape are included. As a result, individuals like Duchnycz are permitted to continue coercively raping women in the state with impunity.