Lydia Cuomo... said the difference in terminology can lead to a rape victim’s attacker being convicted of a crime other than rape — as happened in her case last year. She said such an outcome makes it harder for the victim to heal.The word "rape" conveys more emotional meaning than "sexual assault," which is the supposedly modern terminology found in the Model Penal Code. It's like changing from "murder" to "homicide." But whether you prefer the old words that convey our culture's deep moral condemnation or the new bureaucratic style that organizes everything into a big catalog, pick one approach and stick to it. It's terrible to say to a woman who was raped 3 ways — as Cuomo was — that only the vaginal penetration is — for official purposes — called "rape." In Cuomo's case, the jury failed to convict on the rape charge but convicted on the sexual assault charges, conveyed the unintended but outrageous message that she was not raped.
Now that the problem is plainly exposed, you'd think the fix is simple:
Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Queens) submitted the “rape is rape” bill...
Hours after Lydia Cuomo and Simotas held a press conference last week, a co-sponsor of the bill, state Sen. Catharine Young (R-Cattaraugus County), withdrew her support and filed an alternative measure. Young’s bill is backed by prosecutors across the state, who fear the change Lydia Cuomo is seeking could make it both harder to convict rapists and more difficult for judges to apply sentences consecutively, thereby maximizing prison time.
Young’s alternative would no longer require that penetration of any sort be proven for a rape conviction. Prosecutors instead would have to meet a less onerous standard of vaginal contact, which is the same threshold used for criminal sexual act.The suddenly obvious need for one thing creates the momentum to try to get other things. The will to legislate is unleashed and the prosecutor's wish list pops out.