House Bill 5 Would Make Alaska Law Tougher On Rapists

Apr 28, 2021

Rep. Geran Tarr of Anchorage.
Credit Representative Geran Tarr

A bill has been introduced in the Alaska legislature that would change Alaska laws concerning sex abuse and rape. House Bill 5, introduced by Rep. Geran Tarr of Anchorage, would change the definition of “consent” to make it easier to convict people accused of rape. Statistics indicate that in 2015, more than 90% of the reported felony-level sex offenses did not result in a conviction.

“Our current statute is broken,” said Tarr. “It’s outdated and incomplete. As a result, it means that we are not prosecuting sexual assault effectively in Alaska. It’s why only one in 10 sexual assaults in Alaska is prosecuted.”

Tarr’s bill would change the legal definition of “consent” in the law so that rape can be more effectively prosecuted, even when it does not include violence. It also adds a new provision called “rape by fraud,” which closes an existing loophole, and makes it possible to prosecute someone who has sex with a victim while pretending to be someone else.

“Situations like, an individual lives with their boyfriend, and the brother gets in bed with the girlfriend, pretending to be the boyfriend. So we added a specific ‘rape by fraud’ provision," said Tarr.

Time is quickly running out in the 2021 Legislative Session. House Bill 5 will likely not make it to the House Floor this year, but will remain for consideration next year. Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky is a co-sponsor of the bill.