On June 19th, just short of a month after my TEDx Talk at TEDxYouth@UrsulineAcademy, a sexual assault victim filed civil charges that underscore why Delaware needs to define consent in their laws. The victim alleges that Psychotherapist Sachin J. Karnik deceived her into sexual conduct.
Back in 2006, Karnik pleaded guilty to Medicare fraud. It’s a criminal act to defraud the government of money. Karnik was prosecuted, given a
suspended sentence of four years, fined, and ordered to make restitution. But now, in 2018, it’s not a crime to defraud a victim of sex through the same deceptive practices and no criminal charges have been filed.
You see, sexually violating someone in every way possible is not seen as a crime in Delaware, only by specific ways that Delaware’s law makers call “without consent.” Based on the current status of the state’s penal code, locking up Sachin Karnik so he can’t sexually prey on anyone else is not the government’s responsibility.
Here’s the penal code statement that prevents violation through deception and most forms of coercion from being prosecuted:
“but the victim need resist only to the extent that it is reasonably necessary to make the victim’s refusal to consent known to the defendant;”
When sexual conduct is coerced or deceived, no “refusal” takes place, even though the offender knows they have used manipulation or trickery to secure agreement. Such agreement is “assent,” not “consent.” The victim is being violated even though they don’t know it at the time. The same is true of all crimes involving fraud, including the crimes against the government for which Karnik was previously convicted.
When you defraud the government of money, you’re a criminal. When you sexually defraud a defenseless, gullible woman who relies on you for professional help….. it’s no big deal. Are you sensing a little double standard here?
Sex masquereding as treatment
Karnik convinced the victim, who suffered depression from abuse, that having sex with him was “treatment.” On March 1, his license to practice was suspended after a disciplinary hearing over whether he had violated professional standards when treating a vulnerable patient.
Karnik’s sexual offense took place just 20 minutes down the road from Wilmington, DE, where Ursuline Academy is located. The civil, not criminal, case was filed in Newark, DE. Both Wilmington and Newark are in New Castle County.
According to Delaware Online,
“After about a month of treatment, Karnik encouraged the plaintiff to take off her clothes and straddle his lap during a therapy session. On multiple occasions, the lawsuit alleges, the two had sex, which Karnik called “deep meditation.”
What needs to change?
Because Delaware’s penal code stipulates a limited list of “without consent” behaviors it will prosecute, they recognize some, but not all sexual assaults as criminal behavior. For a doctor or therapist to deceive a patient by pretending their conduct is part of their treatment is not on the “without consent” list. Their penal code’s cherry-picking method of recognizing sexual assault is inadequate for providing justice for all sexual assault victims. Instead they must recognize that “consent” is freely given knowledgeable and informed agreement, and that all non-consensual sex is a crime, as I stated in my TEDx Talk,
But wait…… Didn’t we just do this a minute ago – while the whole world watched??
Larry Nassar, the doctor for the US women’s Olympic gymnastics team, was recently locked up for 140 years – the rest of his life – in the state of Michigan, for tricking his patients into sexual conduct. In both the Nassar and Kranik cases, each offender was accused of pretending their sexual conduct was part of their treatment method. Yet Kranik’s victim cannot pursue criminal sexual assault charges in Delaware.
Enough is enough!
Law makers are loathe to enact the proper definition of consent, “freely given knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA,” into law because they believe their courts will be inundated with sexual assault reports. Instead, they pick and chose specific nonconsensual acts they will prosecute. But by turning a blind eye to the rest of the ways sexual assaults can take place, they enable sexual predators to sexually assault with impunity and perpetuate rape mentality.
We don’t fail to press charges for theft or murder, no matter how the crime is conducted. Murder is murder, theft is theft, and sexual assault is sexual assault. Surely we should not tolerate the failure of our legislators to protect against all forms of sexual assault.
By adopting the following language into law, the state can prosecute all, not just some, sexual predators:
Non-consensual sex is sexual assault; Consent is knowledgeable and informed agreement.
Here’s why the state won’t be inundated with cases to prosecute…
Significant proof is required to prosecute criminal offenders. The bar is high. Sexual assault is no exception. Prosecutors can’t proceed without an indictment by a grand jury and they can’t secure one without evidence. De minimis claims, unfounded charges, don’t result in indictments.
No form of sexual assault should be allowed by our laws. Penal codes must support each person’s inalienable right to consent; freely give knowledgeable and informed agreement, not just assent or acquiesce. Claiming that treachery, deception, impersonation or fraud achieves consent is an oxymoron.
Our law makers need to get this straight:
- Sexual conduct is a privilege, not an entitlement.
- Consent is an entitlement, not a privilege.
Here’s what you can do….
- Watch my TEDx Talk: When “Yes” Means “No,” the Truth about CONSENT.
- Like it, comment on it, and share it with everyone you know.
- Call your legislators and demand they enact #FGKIA law today: Non-consensual sex is sexual assault; Consent is Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement!
Use your voice to make the world a safer place!
WHO TO CONTACT
Senate Majority Leader, Margaret Rose Henry- 302-744-4191, MargaretRose.Henry@state.de.us
Senate President Pro Tempore, David McBride- 302-744-4167, firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaker Pro Tempore, Helene M. Keeley- 302-577-8476