You May Rest in Peace

You may rest in peace safely now. The California Legislature passed a law today against necrophilia. Though a few libertarians might be upset with the restrictions, it fills a gap that has existed for some time, one of those “why didn’t anyone include this in the criminal code before?” questions:

“Prosecutors didn’t have anything to charge these people with other than breaking and entering. But if they worked in a mortuary in the first place, prosecutors couldn’t even charge them with that,” Ochoa said.

The state’s first attempt to outlaw necrophilia, in response to a case of a man charged with having sex with the corpse of a 4-year-old girl in Southern California, stalled last year in a legislative committee.

Lawmakers revived the bill this year after an unsuccessful prosecution of a man found in a San Francisco funeral home drunk and passed out on top of an elderly woman’s corpse.

There was, many years ago, the famous case of a Key West doctor who stole and kept the body of a woman he adored. When the prosecutors took him to trial, he got off on the grounds that Florida had no law against the practice. Authorities did hide the body of the dearly departed and the legislature did pass a law against loving the dead, but rumor has it that he created an effigy and lived with her until his death did them part.

This happened in the 1920s. What took California so long to catch up?

4 Comments so far

  1. Terry Chen (unregistered) on September 10th, 2004 @ 11:30 pm

    Well there goes my date for this weekend. ;)Actually this reminded me of that Chuck Palahniuk book, Lullaby. Good read, peppered with bits of necrophilla.


  2. Joel Sax (unregistered) on September 11th, 2004 @ 12:44 am

    Hmmmm. I think I am less freaked by necrophilia than cannibalism.


  3. Miles (unregistered) on September 11th, 2004 @ 10:23 am

    I have just two questions:

    1. With the state in a seemingly endless budget crisis, why is this an issue needing to be addressed now? Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a fine idea. And sure, despite all of the issues facing us, the legislature and governors are entitled to waste a little time every now in then. I just wonder how this issue floated to the top of the stack now?

    2. Who, if anyone, lobbied against this? Can you imagine the following conversation: “But Governor, what if the corpse was the fellow’s spouse? … or left a waiver covering this in the will? … I thought we had moved beyond banning sexual practices between consenting adults … I mean really, just because one of them is dead …”


  4. Joel (unregistered) on September 11th, 2004 @ 5:19 pm

    I checked the legislative history. No one voted against it though a few legislators weren’t present for the vote.

    Last year there was one “no” vote when the bill came up in the Assembly and that was Jackie Goldberg who represents Los Angeles’ 45th District. This year she was not present for the vote.



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