What’s the proper penalty for rape by fraud?

Suffering through sexual degradation impacts victims at their core. Their overwhelming sense of having been polluted is ever present, long after their ongoing contact with the offender stops.  Escaping the grasp of a predator can be a horrific struggle. Even once achieved, an indelible suffering permeates one’s body and mind long into the future.

The Honorable Steve Samuelson, PA State Representative, surrounded by Sexual Assault by Fraud Activists

Last week, I visited the office of PA State Legislator, Steve Samuelson, and listened to the pained remembrances of two women, out of five they knew of, who’d all been desecrated by one man… a Retired  Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and doctor. The incredulity of the similarity between how he played them all was so ironic, it made each of us laugh. And the fact that he continues his onslaught of human tragedy, with no laws to deter him, adds further insult to their injury. He is currently trolling for new victims on Match.com.

And this week, a friend who’d suffered through rape by fraud and additional crimes brought the severity of the ongoing harm she’d endured into sharp focus. I learned that she’d left everything in her world behind her to literally escape to the other side of the globe. She’d moved from California to New Zealand. While she had endured the anguishing path toward justice for her monetary losses, the authorities had provided no relief for her sense of defilement at having been raped by fraud.

When we spoke about her choice to move halfway around the world she said:

“I didn’t realize until I was so far away that I hadn’t felt safe in over three years. The amount of subconscious stress I was carrying was really highlighted once I was in a place I wasn’t carrying it.”

Her comment brought home to me how many of the survivors I’ve heard from have tried to offset their fear and agony by moving. In fact, I was reminded of one survivor who moved to three different states in a two year period in order to locate a place where she could feel safe. Unfortunately, many survivors who’d like to move can’t afford the cost of uprooting themselves. Instead, they agonize in place, surrounded by the constant reminders of their defilement, and the invalidation of the system that fails to recognize their pain.

How long is enough?

For many survivors, it takes years of struggle and on-going therapy to get their lives back on track. Trust issues plague them on an ongoing basis, and many need years of professional therapy to make peace with their pain.

When I’m asked what I think about the appropriate time-frame for incarcerating rapists who use fraud as the weapon that undermines their target’s sexual sanctity, I think of the length of their victim’s recovery period. Should the offender be less encumbered than the prison of pain that holds their victim hostage?  And shouldn’t the offender pay a fine that’s consistent with their on-going therapy and the life changes they need?

My recommendation for incarcerating a sexual assault by fraud offender is two to three years and a fine of at least $15,000. If granted probation, at the very least, the offender should be included in the sex offender registry for at least two years.


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One thought on “What’s the proper penalty for rape by fraud?”

  1. Great Article!! It does bring up an interesting point as to what the punishment should be for these predators. It needs to be firm enough to make them think twice before trying to carry out something that could do harm to another human being. At the time this happened to me I had no idea I was headed into a serious trauma, and if I had known I would of tried to get help immediately, but why does the victim have to pay for something someone else did due to no fault of their own? I think when people hear of Rape by Fraud, they don’t know the effects that it can cause on the psyche that can lead to physical health problems as well. That’s why our stories need to be heard! I tried once to meet someone via the internet because there was nobody in my circles. I didn’t want that part of my life to pass me by, if you don’t take a chance life will pass you by, so I did. It was to have someone in my life not to be set-up, lied to about everything you can think of, insulted, threatened, had my daughter threatened and so on, That was nine years ago – I’ve never tried again. I think having some justice would of helped me to heal faster. Like the article you did on Texas, my state, I also looked for help from many agencies, and although they were very nice there was nothing they could do except advice on therapy or taking legal action for Intentional Infliction of distress, which I tried to do, but waited too long before the statue of limitations was about to expire. If something like this has happened to you don’t wait to get help as I did. I thought it would go away as I went through the stages of grief, so to speak, but it didn’t stop. So get help ASAP if something feels like it won’t go away. Joyce, so proud of all the work you have done!! You are an amazing lady!!

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