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Prosecutor on 'Oprah' discusses marital rape

Lisa Bloch Rodwin, Erie County's top domestic violence prosecutor, appeared Wednesday on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" to define marital rape and encourage victims to speak out.

"The bottom line is, if somebody is forcing you to have sex, it's rape. It doesn't matter if you're wearing a wedding ring. It doesn't matter if he's the father of your children. It doesn't matter if you've been living together for 20 years," Bloch Rodwin said during the final segment of the hourlong daytime television talk show.

Bloch Rodwin, one of the nation's best-known domestic violence prosecutors, flew to Chicago on Wednesday for her latest appearance on the show, where she also discussed the recent 50-year prison term a Buffalo man got for the forcible rape of his wife.

Anthony Woods, 42, was the first husband in Erie County to be convicted of raping his wife. State Supreme Court Justice Deborah A. Haendiges sentenced Woods on Sept. 21

Last month, Bloch Rodwin, chief of Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark's Domestic Violence Bureau, was awarded one of The Buffalo News' Founders Awards as an architect of Buffalo's Family Justice Center. The center provides one-stop aid for victims of domestic violence.

In May, Bloch Rodwin appeared on Winfrey's show with Susan Still, the Amherst housewife who endured years of verbal and physical abuse by her former husband. The episodes are being used by authorities nationwide to increase professional awareness of domestic violence issues.

In December 2004, State Supreme Court Justice John F. O'Donnell of Buffalo imposed a 36-year prison term on Still's former husband, Ulner Lee Still, now 51.

Winfrey's show Wednesday featured the stories of two women who had been victims of marital rape. Winfrey started the segment of her interview with Bloch Rodwin by asking the prosecutor why marital rape is among the most underreported of sex crimes.

"Who can see themselves as rape victims?" Bloch Rodwin replied. "You're embarrassed. You think: 'I took a vow.' And just remember: We used to say love, cherish, honor and obey, and obey meant everything, including sex."

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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