New law defines 'consent' in sexual assault cases, prosecutors say it's helping in the courtroom

Posted at 7:26 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-20 05:30:26-04

TULSA -- A new law enacted in 2016 defines consent for sexual assault cases.

The bill authored by several lawmakers, including Rep. Scott Biggs, says no one who is “asleep or is mentally of physically incapacitated either through the effect of drugs or alcohol or for any other reason” or someone who is “under duress, threat, coercion or force” can give consent.

The new law also says consent can be revoked at any time.

Prosecutors in Tulsa County said they do not know if they would have gotten the same verdict in Abby Mcarthy’s 2014 rape had the new law not been in place.

Both Willie Jackson and Timothy Bussell were found guilty of first-degree rape in 2017. A jury recommended life sentences without parole for both men.

Mcarthy went to her boyfriend’s house. She said he asked her if she would have sex with Bussell and Jackson. She said she said 'no' about Jackson but did not give an answer on Bussell because he was in the car and she did not want to be mean.

She ended up drinking that night with her boyfriend.

It was not until three days later that Mcarthy found out she was raped. A cell phone video of the rape was circulated and one of the recipients called police.

“I didn’t really know how to feel when I saw it just all at once I felt like I was going to die,” Mcarthy said.

She said her body was completely lifeless in the video.

“I got to watch two minutes of it and I just couldn’t handle it anymore,” Mcarthy said.

It was a life changing experience for the woman who was 18 at the time to say the least.

Mcarthy had to face Bussell and Jackson in court.

“I’m the one to put the pretty face on, ‘I’m O.K.’ “ Mcarthy said. “Just knowing that they were going to see me cry… they saw me cry. They were taking my power all over again.”

She said the rape should not have happened even if she was drinking.

Under the law that was enacted in 2016, Mcarthy could not have given consent because she was passed out.

Rep. Biggs said he wrote the bill for victims like Mcarthy.

“These bills were not written to make sure someone goes to jail or gets a life sentence,” Rep. Biggs said. “These bills were written to make sure someone has a voice and that's exactly what they're doing.”

Rep. Biggs also had another bill he authored signed into law that dictates all rape by instrumentation is considered first-degree rape. That law takes effect in November of this year. He has others in the works.

Prosecutors hope these new laws stop victim shaming in the courtroom.

“That is always their fear is that ‘How much are they going to call me a slut or wonder what I was doing or how much I was drinking’ “ Kenneth Elmore, special victims unit prosecutor for the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Offices, said. “That doesn't matter under the law and it doesn't matter based upon your common sense. Now having that legislation to back that up gives us a lot more tools to be able to use to fight for justice.”

Even with the guilty verdict, Mcarthy said she does not know what justice feels like in this case. She said she has PTSD as a result.


Bussell and Jackson will be sentenced by a judge on August 11.  Mcarthy said she plans to write a victim impact statement. 



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