A sexual assault that leaves a victim pregnant may be punished more severely than one that does not result in pregnancy, says a California Supreme Court ruling reported by the Los Angeles Times. The court said a pregnancy may be considered “great bodily injury.” The court ruled in the Santa Clara County case of Gary Cross, who repeatedly had sexual intercourse with his 13-year-old stepdaughter while her mother worked. The teenager became pregnant, and Cross arranged for her to have an abortion.
Jurors were told they could find that he personally inflicted “great bodily injury” on the girl as a result of her pregnancy or the abortion. The jury reached that finding, which mandated a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Without that verdict, the defendant would have received a more lenient sentence. Although the court ruled unanimously that the girl’s pregnancy amounted to substantial harm, the justices split 5 to 2 on whether to declare that every pregnancy stemming from sexual assault was a great injury. The majority said that was a question for juries to decide based on the facts of a case.