• Thu, Oct 4 2012

The Fact That This Sexual Assault Charge Was Overturned Will Horrify You

This is a picture of the introduction to the Twilight Zone because I legitimately do not know what kind of a world we are living in.

The Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, just overturned the Sexual Assault Conviction of a man accused of raping  a woman who “has severe cerebral palsy, has the intellectual functional equivalent of a 3-year-old and cannot verbally communicate.”

Do you know why?

Because there was not enough evidence that she resisted. In Conneticut, physical incapacity in terms of sexual assault is defined as someone who is “unconscious or for any other reason. . . physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.”

But she has the intellectual capacity of a three year old. A three year old.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), lack of consent is implied if you are “under the statutory age of consent, or if you had a mental defect.”

The defense lawyer states that: “(W)e, like the Appellate Court, ’are not persuaded that the state produced any credible evidence that the [victim] was either unconscious or so uncommunicative that she was physically incapable of manifesting to the defendant her lack of consent to sexual intercourse at the time of the alleged sexual assault.”

SHE IS UNABLE TO VERBALLY COMMUNICATE.

I’m sorry, this just strikes me as the ultimate example of someone taking advantage of someone who is completely defenseless. I’m sincerely shocked, and I’m really ashamed of everyone who somehow decided that this was acceptable. I know we talk a lot about the fact that you should be able to walk down the street at night in a tank top without being bothered but this is… how? How does this happen? How do we live in a world where anyone thinks this is alright?

Sometimes I fear for everyone.

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  • Nancy

    Wowww, I weep for the world

  • RM

    I worked for years with that population. I would suggest that just about any sexual intercourse with someone who is severely disabled would be considered rape. If I gave that same woman gasoline and told her it was soda and she drank it and died, would that not be murder?

    This is the most disgusting thing I’ve read in a long time.

  • Kim

    that is so incredibly fucked up and heartbreaking.

  • Maggie

    I wonder how that defense lawyer and the judge are able to sleep at night? Seriously, there is something very wrong with the justice system if this is legally allowed to happen. It’s probably only a matter of time before that sicko does it again.

    • Meghan

      Do you believe that any citizen charged with a crime should have a right to legal council? Or that if the charges in question do not fit the alleged circumstances, that the case should be thrown out? I imagine belief in those principles is exactly how the defense lawyer and judges sleep at night.
      As Legalite pointed out (and is clearly explained in the ThinkProgress article Jennifer linked to), prosecution in the case was that the sexual assault happened on the grounds of “physical helplessness” (subsection 3) as opposed to “mental deficiency” (subsection 2). To my understanding, this is an error in prosecution, not in the interpretation of the law. As horrifying as it is to imagine that man walking free, I am much more afraid of a world in which judges go around applying their own personal opinions to the administration of justice.
      If anything, I think that this shows an instance in which that the legal system worked as it should. The judges and lawyers aren’t our enemy here- government is responsible for creating and amending legislation. If you think something needs to be changed in the way we prosecute rape, focus your energy there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fluorescentbeige Jade Clements

    This is horrifying, sometimes I wonder what is happening to the world :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenni.tonic Jenni Kirkeby

    Wow. Just…wow. I don’t UNDERSTAND how this is even possible. Like, it doesn’t compute how that is even legal. He must have had a damn good lawyer or maybe the rapist had a lot of money and paid off the lawyer and judge and jury…?

  • Legalite

    I enjoy the woman-centered view of daily life and interests on the Gloss, but this article is outrageously incorrect on multiple points.

    1. This is not a decision of SCOTUS, it is from the Supreme Court of Conneticut, and the ambiguity here is very misleading as to the magnitude of the decision.

    2. The victim in this case did NOT have the mentality of a 3-year old-the article cited herein made such a statement erroneously. The opinion of the Court cites a case from New York where the victim-in the other, completely unrelated case-did in fact test at very, very low intelligence.

    3. The subsection of the criminal code this (disgusting human being) was charged under required a specific definition of “unconsciousness”. Criminal codes are written to require certain elements be proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, in order for a defendant to be found guilty.

    The problem here appears to be poor prosecution, and poor charging. The defendant could likely have been found guilty under another code section based on the facts recited in the opinion.

    I respect what the Gloss stands for, and it is terrible, disheartening, and nauseating that crimes like this happen. However, reporting a story with little to no fact checking is reprehensible. I realize it may be a gut-check reaction to a terrible story, but simply parroting the news from another site fails to accomplish what should be a goal of this site-to bring news of interest, accurately, to the attention of like-minded women. The state of sexual assault law in this country (and worldwide) is an important topic to all women, but this type of reporting sets back far more than it advances.

    • Kristina

      I think for everyone who can read properly, it is easily understood that this was not a U.S. Supreme Court decision, especially considering Jennifer alluded to the appellate court in the quote pulled. Jennifer also quoted Connecticut’s standing statute for definition of physical incapacity, which includes “physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act”, and which definitely covers inability to speak. Also, the victim was UNABLE TO SPEAK. Just FYI, based on developmental milestones, that is less verbal development than a 1 year old.

      FACT CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF.

    • Legalite

      Less verbal development is not a standard used in this case, it’s mental development overall, which can be indicated by multiple factors, including those found in this case. If you care to read the 15 page opinion, you will find the legal definition under the Conneticut Code for physically unable to communicate unwillingness. They charged the defendant with the wrong statute, and his case was properly overturned. This is not a case of ‘horrible state court allows rape!!!!!’, this is a sad scenario wherein the DA’s office failed to do their jobs.