In Manchester, UK, according to the Guardian, Gayle Newland will hear her fate, for a second time, on July 20th. She posed as a man, Kye Fortune, to seduce a woman through an on-line scam. Ironically, she was also friends with the woman, who knew her as a female, not as her male alter-ego. A second jury returned a guilty verdict on June 29th.
The original guilty verdict had been set aside and a new court proceeding followed. The original hearing lead to a sentence of 8 year’s imprisonment….. a harsh penalty indeed.
Judges do a terrible disservice to society’s recognition of rape by deception when they liken the penalty to violent rape. Yes, all forms of defilement are heinous, but the severity of all crimes “to the person” reflect whether violence or weapons are used in the act. In cases of rape by deception, the victim’s consent is undermined through fraud, not through violence, and the penalty should reflect that concept.
A realistic sentence for rape by fraud would be 1-4 years and a fine. An 8 year sentence is excessive.
When the verdict was pronounced, Newland stated, “I can’t go back to jail.” She previously attempted suicide. She should be carefully monitored and in therapy. She’s a troubled woman in need of counseling in order to make peace with her sexual identity.
Throwing the baby out with the bath water helps no one. While rape by fraud is indeed a defiling crime, it is not a violent crime and does not merit the same scale of penalty attributed to violent crimes. If you pick someone’s pocket or you beat them up and take their wallet, you’ll go to jail. But the theft that includes violence will result in a stiffer penalty. The same concept applies in rape by fraud cases. Using deception to induce sex is, indeed, a form of sexual assault, but it’s not a violent form of sexual assault. The penalty should not be as harsh.