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State lawmaker seeking to remove exception in Michigan's marital rape laws

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A state lawmaker wants to close a loophole in Michigan’s marital rape law. A person currently cannot be convicted of rape solely because they had sexual intercourse with their spouse, while the spouse was mentally incapacitated.

It’s an exception in the state’s marital rape laws. And Representative Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia) has introduced a bill to get rid of the exception.

“It was already on the books that, you know, marital rape is illegal," she said. "So the fact that there was this very obvious and repugnant loophole, was extremely surprising to me.”

Matt Wiese is the prosecuting attorney of Marquette County and soon to be president of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan. He says this is a good loophole to close.

“We definitely would not want a spouse to be able to get away with drugging his or her spouse, then sexually assaulting them and getting away with it,” he said.

Wiese says prosecutor’s offices don’t see these cases every day, but he does believe prosecutors see – and have to deny - these types of cases every year.

Michigan is one of more than a dozen states with some form of exception for spouses who sexually assault their partners. The bill has received bipartisan support in the state House.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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