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Question of consent comes to fore in Ohio juvenile rape case

Back in January, we wrote about a rape case out of Ohio that made national news because of the unique social media component involved. The case involved two teenagers from Steubenville, Ohio who were accused of sexually assaulting a fellow classmate at a party before the school year began. Prosecutors claim that the boys repeatedly raped the minor girl while she was unconscious.

The newest development in that story is that the Ohio juvenile court judge in charge of the case will be forced to consider this week the question: how drunk is too drunk to consent to sex? The 16 and 17-year-old boys are now charged as juveniles with sexual assault.

The boys' attorneys will reportedly be attempting to show that the girl was not3 completely incapacitated and could have refused sex at any time. Witnesses testified back in October that she was so drunk that she had trouble speaking and walking, and that she vomited at least twice, but defense attorneys have pointed out that she was able to give out the passcode for her cell phone that night.

There is no legal limit as how intoxicated a person has to be in order to be considered impaired for purposes of determining consent to sexual activity. Such situations can be further complicated by the fact that victims often don't report the rape to a hospital or police until hours or days after the assault took place.

Prosecutors are likely to focus on a more common sense approach, asking the jury to use their best judgment. This, however, is not always an accurate barometer of what took place.

As we've noted, the case came to national attention back in December after a hacker group posted a video of teenagers cracking jokes about the alleged assault. In addition, the incident has been discussed on a number of social media sites, including Facebook.

Source: CBS News, "Steubenville Rape Case: How drunk is too drunk to consent to sex?," Julia Dahl, March 13, 2013

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