I truly hate being an “I told you so,” And nothing could make me dislike this role more than knowing that 156 unfortunate girls suffered a horribly defiling crime – one that I’ve been jumping up and down to stop for the past 5+ years!
Yesterday, Dr. Lawrence Nassar, former USA Gymnastics team doctor, was sentenced to a 175 year prison term after 156 of his sexual assault victims stepped forward. He’d molested them by using fraud in the factum, one of two specific types of sexual fraud, to deprive them of their self determination over their bodies. Fraud in the factum occurs when the offender pretends their sexual conduct is something else. Nassar had pretended they were medically necessary components of treatment.
Fraud in the inducement takes place when the actor (offender) deceives the victim about their identity or their intentions. Whether their fraud is achieved in the factum or in the inducement, both types of sexual fraud vitiates consent; therefore, whenever fraud is used to induce sex, a sexual assault, not seduction, is taking place.
The statements and actions of our legislators are mind-boggling. Not only do they smack of closing the barn door after the cows get out, they don’t even address the crux of the problem…… enlightening society and the justice system about what actually constitutes sexual assault.
According to the Washington Post, Speaker Paul Ryan stated “The crimes committed against these young women are atrocious and rattle us all to the core. The fact that it went unreported to law enforcement is intolerable — and it’s a huge wake-up call.” But for all his fiery rhetoric, it’s Ryan that needs to wake up! Victims can’t be expected to discuss or report a crime if they don’t realize it’s really a crime!
If Ryan really wants to make a difference, he’ll plug up the cavernous hole in penal code that sexual assault by fraud offenders fall through, unscathed, as their victims struggle with the aftermath, year after painful year, with no justice or validation.
A small step forward
Rep. Susan Brooks of IN introduced into federal law, S.534 – Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act of 2017, In her words, the law “requires prompt reporting of suspected cases of abuse, mandatory training, and implementation of policies and procedures for preventing, reporting, and addressing allegations of sexual abuse at amateur athletic governing bodies, underscoring how imperative reporting victims of sexual abuse is.”
While a positive first step, it fails to contain a single, solitary word, definition, or explanation about what constitutes the misconduct on which the law is based. Defining sexual assault appears nowhere in the entire 18 page bill. In order for this law to have teeth, it must clearly identify: “Consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement – All non-consensual sex is sexual assault – No minor, regardless of their assent to any sexual contact, is capable, by law, of providing consent.”
The heart wrenching truth about victimization
Rachel Denhollander, the fist athlete who came forward with her complaint against Nassar, expressed that she had felt terrified. As she grew into adulthood, her sense of defilement stayed with her and she confided to her husband, “I’m dirty because of it. I feel like damaged goods.”
Those feelings are all too familiar to every victim of sexual assault by fraud!
Today, one solitary serial rapist, among countless others, was recognized and forced by the court to pay for his crimes. But millions of sexual assault by fraud victims still struggle with the overwhelming pain of feeling dirtied and defiled, with no one to give them comfort or justice.
Please call your legislator!
Tell them to add these words into S.534 today:
“Consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement – All non-consensual sex is sexual assault – No minor, regardless of their assent to any sexual contact, is capable, by law, of providing consent.”