Law Professor Davidson quoted in Statesman Journal on lasting impact of Oregon v. Rideout

by Patrick Riedling,

  • Caroline Davidson
    Willamette University College of Law's Professor Caroline Davidson

Willamette law professor and human rights and criminal law expert Caroline Davidson was quoted in a Statesman Journal feature article that reported on the aftermath of the landmark case of Oregon v. Rideout. In 1978, John Rideout was arrested on charges that he raped his wife Greta in front of their 2-year-old child at the couple's Salem, Oregon apartment.

Rideout was the first man in American history to go to trial for raping his wife while they were living together. Even though he was eventually acquitted, the media frenzy around the trial, and later, made-for-TV movie, spotlighted the issue of marital rape. The article recaps the lives of the parties involved and discusses what has changed since the decision 38 years ago.

According to the Statesman Journal, the defense put Greta's sexual history on trial, highlighting a past abortion, fantasies she told her husband, past relationships and what defense attorney Charles Burt called a "very serious sexual problem."

Such a detailed account of a victim's sexual history not relating to the alleged rape would most likely not be featured in a present-day trial, said Professor Davidson, who teaches and writes about criminal law and human rights at Willamette University College of Law.

Davidson said rape shield laws now help keep the victim from being placed on trial and rape myths away from the jury. Today, spousal rape is domestically and internationally vilified, she went on to say, but jurisdictions are all over the map on what they define as rape.

"There is still not complete enforcement," she said.

Read the full article on

About Caroline Davidson

Caroline Davidson is an associate professor of law at Willamette University College of Law in Salem, Oregon, where she teaches and writes about human rights and criminal law. Her scholarly work has appeared in the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, and the American University Law Review, among others. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was an executive editor of the Harvard Human Rights Journal. Before joining Willamette, Davidson worked on prosecutions of people accused of atrocity crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

About Willamette University College of Law

Opened in 1883, Willamette University College of Law is the first law school in the Pacific Northwest. The college has a long tradition at the forefront of legal education and is committed to the advancement of knowledge through excellent teaching, scholarship, mentoring and experience. Leading faculty, thriving externship and clinical law programs, ample practical skills courses, and a proactive career placement office prepare Willamette law students for today's legal job market. According to statistics compiled by the American Bar Association, Willamette ranks first in the Pacific Northwest for job placement for full-time, long-term, JD-preferred/JD-required jobs for the class of 2014 and first in Oregon for the classes of 2012, 2013 and 2014. Located across the street from the state capitol complex and the Oregon Supreme Court in downtown Salem, the college specializes in law and government, law and business, and dispute resolution.

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