Middlesex Rep. Kate Hogan submitted a new sexual assault by fraud bill to the MA House of Representatives in January. The House floor debate could take place as early as this Fall.
Hogan sponsored the bill, #H2289, at the urging of District Attorney Marian Ryan who’d passed up an opportunity to prosecute Dr. Roger Hardy a few months back on the basis that MA law didn’t give her the ability to do so. Hardy had been accused of multiple acts of unlawful sexual behavior. Ryan said that the MA law gave doctors a loophole. She intends to close the gap. In the process, she could help society understand a powerful concept……
Improper use of the term “consent”
Both Hogan and Ryan are to be commended for their efforts to bring sex scammers to justice. But I’d like to see them make one small but meaningful adjustment to the text…. It presently indicates that patients are giving “consent” when they are agreeing to the contact that is induced by fraud, but, indeed, they are not. They are simply giving assent. Assent is agreement on the face of it, while consent is “freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement. Calling defrauded agreement “consent” is an oxymoron.
21 (a) A person who is, or holds themselves out to be, a medical or health care professional, and who knowingly induces a patient or client to engage in natural or unnatural sexual intercourse during the course of diagnosis, counseling, or treatment, where — consent– to the intercourse was procured by a false representation that the act was for a bona fide medical purpose, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 20 years
In the above passage, the word “consent” should be substituted with the word, “agreement,” or the word “assent.” “Consent” should never be used for defrauded agreement in this or any other law.
Additionally, conveying that consent is “freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement,” would strengthen their bill and enable the people of the good state of MA to understand why a person can seemingly go along with something, but not have consented to it.
Why limit this bill to doctors?
Medical professionals are not the only people who establish and misuse trust to undermine a victim’s right to self determination over their reproductive organs. In order to get the bill passed; however, it overlooks the defilement that happens when trust is abused by lawyers, plumbers, hockey players, financial analysts, sales reps, programmers, pianists, dog groomers, real estate agents- etc. – Sexual predators come in all shapes, sizes and professions!
The type of fraud that takes place when someone is tricked about the act itself is considered fraud in the factum. Tricking someone about the actor is called fraud in the inducement. #H2289 focuses on fraud in the factum.
Several years ago, then Representative Peter Koutoutian, now the Sheriff of Middlesex County, attempted to pass a bill to outlaw sexual assault by fraud in MA. His bill was rejected for being “too broad.” #H2289 attempts to limit offenders to get past the objectors who think regulating rape by fraud would flood the state’s courts.
I believe, and history has shown, that laws change the morals of society. Take slavery for instance. Federal laws made slavery a crime. Today, we recognize slavery as immoral. All non-consensual sex, sex conducted without consent, should be outlawed as well.
#MeToo and #TimesUp have shown that myriads of people suffer sexual assault and sexual harassment. #H2289 will at least protect against the type of sexual assault by fraud that defiled 156+ young girls who were Dr. Larry Nassar’s victims.
This bill is an admirable start….
I truly hope #H2289 passes! But no one, regardless of their profession, should ever defraud another person of sex. When they do, they are sexually assaulting, not seducing the victim.
You can make a difference!
Particularly if you live in Massachusetts, please write to Rep. Kate Hogan: firstname.lastname@example.org. Those letters may help her persuade the House of Representatives in MA to enact her bill into law.
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