Reporter, Jessica Schneider, introduced New Jersey’s newly submitted Sexual Assault by Fraud law on the CBS Evening News in NYC, last night, featuring Assembly Member Troy Singleton and myself. Here’s the link.
We need more even handed reporting like this to counter the silliness like “Will I get arrested for wearing Spanx? Afterall, I’m being deceitful about my appearance.”
So to answer a few questions from reddit and other sources….
No, if you tell a person you own a helicopter, and you really don’t, it’s unlikely a case can be made against you. It’s not that you haven’t defrauded the person, it’s just that what you’ve done is not prosecutorial.
And no, if you say, “I’m going to marry you in the morning,” but don’t, or “I’ll love you forever,” when you really don’t mean it, you are not likely to be arrested.
In response to the unnamed gentleman in the clip, the victim of the hoax that precipitated Assemblyman Singleton’s interest in this law, did indeed try to investigate the background of the offender, William Allen Jordan. He had lied to her, not only about multiple identity characteristics, he’d lied to her about his name as well. He made it impossible to check him out.
It wasn’t until they’d dated for over a year and become engaged that she learned his true identity. He was a convicted child molester and bigamist who had been deported from the UK after serving his time.
Not only had this Lothario embroiled the complaining victim, Mischele Lewis, in his scam, just days after his release, while on bail for the charges that were brought against him, he went after a new victim with a similar hoax. Some sexual predators just never learn and the only way to prevent the public from harm is to incarcerate them.
Like in all criminal court cases, the District Attorney and Grand Jury can’t frivolously charge the offender. In order to pursue a case, significant harm and considerable proof must be presented. And in cases in which the lies are of “intent,” it is all too easy to defend your position by merely claiming you changed your mind.
The cases that would more likely be cause for action are ones in which the harm was an ongoing hoax or where the offender gained access to the victim under the cover of darkness or another means of concealment. An additional benefit of this law is that it could provide justice for victims who receive life threatening communicable illnesses from predators who lie about their health.
So while the premise of the law holds true for all cases of sexual assault by fraud, duplicity invalidates consent, only substantial cases will warrant prosecution.