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Intro: "In a 4-3 ruling Tuesday afternoon, the Connecticut State Supreme Court overturned the sexual assault conviction of a man who had sex with a woman who 'has severe cerebral palsy, has the intellectual functional equivalent of a 3-year-old and cannot verbally communicate.'"

Feminist leaders and activists hold signs to protest sexual violence. (photo: NY Daily News)
Feminist leaders and activists hold signs to protest sexual violence. (photo: NY Daily News)

Court Rules Disabled Woman Wasn't Raped Because She Didn't 'Bite, Kick or Scratch'

By Zack Beauchamp, ThinkProgress

04 October 12


n a 4-3 ruling Tuesday afternoon, the Connecticut State Supreme Court overturned the sexual assault conviction of a man who had sex with a woman who “has severe cerebral palsy, has the intellectual functional equivalent of a 3-year-old and cannot verbally communicate.” The Court held that, because Connecticut statutes define physical incapacity for the purpose of sexual assault as “unconscious or for any other reason. . . physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act,” the defendant could not be convicted if there was any chance that the victim could have communicated her lack of consent. Since the victim in this case was capable of “biting, kicking, scratching, screeching, groaning or gesturing,” the Court ruled that that victim could have communicated lack of consent despite her serious mental deficiencies:

When we consider this evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the verdict, and in a manner that is consistent with the state’s theory of guilt at trial, we, 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.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), lack of physical resistance is not evidence of consent, as “many victims make the good judgment that physical resistance would cause the attacker to become more violent.” RAINN also notes that lack of consent is implicit “if you were under the statutory age of consent, or if you had a mental defect” as the victim did in this case.

Anna Doroghazi, director of public policy and communication at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, worried that the Court’s interpretation of the law ignored these concerns: “By implying that the victim in this case should have bitten or kicked her assailant, this ruling effectively holds people with disabilities to a higher standard than the rest of the population when it comes to proving lack of consent in sexual assault cases. Failing to bite an assailant is not the same thing as consenting to sexual activity.” An amicus brief filed by the Connecticut advocates for disabled persons argued that this higher standard “discourag[ed] the prosecution of crimes against persons with disabilities” even though “persons with a disability had an age-adjusted rate of rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate for persons without a disability.” your social media marketing partner


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+57 # BradFromSalem 2012-10-04 09:10
A woman unable to communicate except by physical or verbal aggression is assumed to want to have sex with any clown that decides he wants to have sex with her? Unless, of course, she becomes aggresive. Pardon my ignorance, but was this woman even aware of sex?
+60 # Regina 2012-10-04 09:34
When was Akin appointed to the Connecticut court????? What is with this excremental attitude about women????? Get those male macaques back into their cages.
+24 # BradFromSalem 2012-10-04 11:57
This is way worse than Akin's unsubstantiated procreation theories. These are real people sitting in judgement of an individual's act of rape and willfully ignoring the intent of the law in order to allow a horrible crime to be ignored.
With Akin, there is a chance that faced with a real case and real people he would rule differently as a judge. These judges (that's plural, as in more than one!) have no concept of what laws are for and lack any sense of human decency.
+14 # Regina 2012-10-04 15:01
Hi Brad -- I agree with your characterizatio n of those court justices. But I meant Akin figuratively, categorically, not literally. There are far too many of his screed in positions of power. And no, I wouldn't trust the real Akin as a judge -- his ignorance is exceeded only by his arrogance. His membership on the House science committee is a further atrocity.
+72 # George Kennedy 2012-10-04 09:34
Is this the society we have become? Are men so callous, so lacking in compassion that they can sanction the actions of a rapist against someone with the mental capacity of child? Is someone that age aware of sex? The men and women of Connecticut should hold this court accountable including if it means launching articles of impeachment. No child is safe now. This is morally reprehensible behavior.
+8 # Nominae 2012-10-04 20:39
@ George Kennedy

"No child is safe now"

WELL SAID ! And this is Connecticut, people, NOT Alabama or Texas. Can this possibly be allowed to STAND ?
+67 # MJnevetS 2012-10-04 09:56
WTF!!! ACLU should file for a writ of certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court (Yeah, I know, Clarence 'pubic hair' Thomas) claiming that the interpretation of the law violates the U.S. Constitution regarding equal protection under the law. In that way, the State Supreme Court's interpretation could be deemed unconstitutiona l. As a former prosecutor and a current civil attorney who has represented victims with Cerebral Palsy, who have been victims of abuse and who can't verbally communicate same, this ruling shocks the conscience!
+52 # Buddha 2012-10-04 10:07
Unbelievable. And the Right tries to pretend there isn't a War on Women? While we now legalize rape because a woman, mentally disabled or not, "didn't fight hard enough"? I am simply flabbergasted.
+35 # chuckw38 2012-10-04 10:17
Whomever made this "ruling" is clearly a group of Sexist "men"
who see Women as property of men, to be done with what they will.... The kind of stupidity
this decision is confronts belief to the max!!! Pass the barf bags, please....
+34 # Mar8g 2012-10-04 10:23
Apparently the Creator of these 4 "justices" inserted a misogyny gene where there should have been a compassion gene.
+45 # Archie1954 2012-10-04 10:28
The judges should be removed from office for total incompetence and misfeasance.
+4 # Cassandra2012 2012-10-04 16:15
Quoting Archie1954:
The judges should be removed from office for total incompetence and misfeasance.

+29 # warren42 2012-10-04 10:35
This decision if an abomination. This is really statutory rape. At least the rapist should have to prove aconsent was activily given.
+17 # BradFromSalem 2012-10-04 12:02
Apparently in CT women are assumed to have consented to sex by default and must actively , clearly and demonstrably negate that default consent.
+29 # angelfish 2012-10-04 11:19
Not only is this Outrageous, it is CRIMINAL and the Loons on the Connecticut Supreme Court have just OUTED themselves as Rape Facilitators! I am so angry I can hardly type and I am HEART-SICK that this severely disabled woman has NO Advocate who can EVER protect her from similar abuse! Women of Connecticut! Arm yourselves with Mace and Pepper-spray! Although able-bodied women will be at much LESS risk from the Cretinous type that horrified this poor victim! This defies ALL sense and Reason! I am horror struck, as a retired Health Care Professional, to see with such ease these Morons on the Connecticut Supreme Court have made it for OTHER sexual predators to prey upon those who have NO voice! IMPEACH them!
+30 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-10-04 11:39
First she’s raped by Fourtin, then again, & in effect worse brutalized, by the Connecticut Supreme Court. One hopes this will go higher & be dealt with justly then; but the Court’s moronic & apparently evil decision in this case simply staggers the mind. Are they not then encouraging nominal Paedophilia? This is extreme Disabled Abuse. What’s happening in the USA?
+21 # Dave_s Not Here 2012-10-04 12:06
This is the best legal thinking the Connecticut court can come up with?

+15 # Diane 2012-10-04 13:08
I was born in Massachusetts (though I live in Oregon now) and have always believed sane people lived in New England. Connecticut's ruling just overturned that opinion. I have also worked with rape victims in the past. It is unconscionable that these justices ruled in favor of the rapist. Ain't America exceptional?!
+21 # Glen 2012-10-04 13:42
Please do not take this as advocating violence, but most of us DO understand why the family of such victims "take the law into their own hands" and why vigilantism has been popular at various times. Charles Bronson, where are you when we need you.

This so-called legal decision is enraging and continues to be shocking. It is also shocking which states keep coming up with these bogus decrees against women. We would all be gratified if the citizens of Connecticut rose up and shouted down this decision, no matter the method.

Mark my words. Women are going to fight back.
+15 # janie1893 2012-10-04 13:50
Connecticut needs to change it's laws and it's judges. This is appalling!
+13 # Art947 2012-10-04 15:34
This ruling gives credence to the adage that the "Law is an Ass." These 4 "judges" should be impeached for colossal ignorance! They have demonstrated that their claim to be human is suspect!
-2 # frankscott 2012-10-04 17:57
this is disgraceful and the court sounds like it's upholding the law as courts do: in support of a legal system and hardly the people subject to that system... but...

does anyone know if the assailant might not have also been disabled? i mean quite apart from being a rapist, which means you have a serious mental /moral disability, was this person also possibly a physically disabled person?
+10 # pianosaurus rex 2012-10-04 18:09
It is obvious to any thinking person that someone with the mind of a three year old could never comprehend how to give informed consent on sex or any other matter. Three year olds understand very little; hunger, comfort, nurturing, these are the things three year olds respond to.

The very fact that the victim did not resist should reveal to the court that the victim did not understand the seriousness of the act nor does she understand what the sex act is at all.
+6 # ghostperson 2012-10-04 21:40
Just when you think you have seen and heard it all...the korts raise the bar of insanity.

The physical and mental symptomatology and functional limitations of severe cerebral palsy preclude the actions demanded of a rape victim in that state who has to disprove an apparent presumption of consent--by an individual with the mental acuity of a toddler.

Where are the ADA'ers? Was the state supreme kort on crack?
+4 # Texan 4 Peace 2012-10-04 23:01
This is absolutely vile. I am truly speechless.
+3 # RMDC 2012-10-06 08:20
Texan -- don't be speechless. If you don't scratch, bite, or screech, the Connecticut court will think you consent to their ruling. Silence equals consent in their view.

What bullshit. This is one of the most outrageous court decisions ever. Someone should rape the members of the Connecticut Supreme court just to see what sort of resistance they put up. I'm sure a jury of their peers would say, "you did not screech loud enough so you got what you wanted."
+4 # firefly 2012-10-05 05:38
If the victim does not realize that they are a victim then it does not change the fact of victimization. Rather like the predatory loan practices which were practiced on unsuspecting homebuyers (who also, by and large, have been unsuccessful in court).
+1 # pianosaurus rex 2012-10-05 12:22
I am thinking an important part of this has been missed;

What kind of a man, what kind of a human being, has a desire to simply relieve their sexual tension just because there is a live vagina present?

What quality of person commits this kind of act? Only a bottom feeder that is completely unable to form a relationship with the opposite sex. What positive contribution has this guy made to our society?

And now the guy has just been informed by the court that this kind of conduct will go unpunished.

Who will be the next victim for this person? An autistic? A retarded amputee? How about a victim of thalidomide, a flipper baby, now mature?

The guy needs treatment plain and simple.
0 # crudell 2012-10-09 19:08
"Who will be the next victim for this person? An autistic? A retarded amputee? How about a victim of thalidomide, a flipper baby, now mature?"
OUCH...not trying to disagree with your essential point, but what are you trying to say with these examples? Your terminology is archaic as is your assumption that all of these people would be intellectually disabled and thereby incapable of defending themselves. I personally have a friend who was affected by thalidomide and has four drastically shortened limbs but she is probably much more intelligent that you. Not to mention VERY capable of self defense.
+2 # crudell 2012-10-05 22:16
Actually, it is very likely the woman wasn't even capable of physically resisting the assault even according to the standards set by this insane court. By definition "severe cerebral palsy" probably means she doesn't have enough control of her limbs to direct them in any meaningful way against the disgusting creature who assaulted her.
0 # Mannstein 2012-10-06 20:09
We are the shining city on a hill and a light unto the world. And I have some Florida swampland you all might be interested in.
0 # threenorns 2012-10-09 14:39
i would LOVE to be a fly on the wall when the judges' mothers, wives, daughters, grand-daughters , and so on get wind of this ruling!

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