On July 22, 2023, The NY Times published an in-depth article, What People Misunderstand about Rape, by Jen Percy, addressing tonic immobility. She had interviewed CAN’s CEO, Joyce Short, in her research, who had written a post on this issue in 2014, and included a brief statement regarding her individual case. Ms. Percy’s insight laid bare the flagrant and direct conflict between the science of the victim’s response versus how our penal laws treat victims.
Joyce’s “freeze” reaction in her personal case was aligned with so many victims who were terrorized; fearing bodily injury or even death during the attack.
Penal laws are blind to the automatic and subconscious responses a victim’s brain will make in order to preserve their life. Their freezing and fawning reactions are treated by investigators as “acquiescing,” a reasoned, non-automatic response. While acquiescing is a conscious decision, freezing and fawning result from surges of the neuropeptides and hormones that terror triggers in the brain. But even acquiescing, agreeing under duress, does not constitute consent.
Consent is a form of agreement that must be freely given, not violently forced or coerced, knowledgeable and informed, not deceived or defrauded, and must not result from exploiting incapacity.
Involuntary, reflexive reactions to inescapable danger produce self-blame in victims who question their own inability to fight back or why they stopped resisting.
Both freezing and fawning directly result from the brain snapping into a protective mode by amping up the hormones and neuropeptides that control bodily and brain functions immediately when the amygdala senses an extreme threat.
In tonic immobility, the brain causes motor inhibition, a state of paralysis.
“Fawning” is the brain’s way of “going along to get along” when facing death or intense terror.
While Joyce stated that she did not feel paralyzed, she knew that resisting was putting her life at great risk. Her attacker pushed his forearm into her neck cutting off her airway, causing her freeze response.
Many states and jurisdictions have penal laws that base “consent” on the words or actions of the victim at the time they were terrorized. This “Yes means Yes” concept is misguided, blaming victims for their reactions which could be automatic, involuntary responses, assent, or acquiescence…. none of which are consent.
Archaic victim blaming has been embedded in penal laws for generations and determines how juries decide whether or not the complainant consented. Instead of focusing on causation – what did the accused do to secure the victim’s compliance – their rulings are based on what victims say and do under terrorizing conditions.
How can we change this grotesque injustice?
Ms. Percy’s article goes a long way to explain the phenomenon of freezing, but society needs to take the next step……..
By correctly defining consent in our laws as “freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, by a person with the capacity to reason.” #FGKIA, we turn our human right of consent into a powerful civil right backed by law. This definition will protect against rape, all sex crimes, and disrupt victim-blaming and shaming.
Another trending trope, “Enthusiastic Yes,” strips people of their First Amendment right of free speech, right in the privacy of their bedrooms.
CAN not only fights for legislative changes, but also addresses the harm caused by misinformed “consent educators” who sell “consent” education materials and profit from books, speeches, and trainings that promote “Yes Means Yes,’’ “No Means No,” and “Enthusiastic Yes.”
Malicious influence by the offender, not the reactions of their victims, should determine whether or not consent took place. We need our laws to get this right.
Here are four candidates who are fighting to define consent in our laws:
Defining consent will turn our unenumerated human right of consent into an enumerated civil right backed by law! Yet NO STATE actually defines the noun CONSENT in our laws.
Society needs legislators who will #CodifyConsent in order to defeat antiquated, blame-the-victim concepts. By doing so, they will help protect our legal right to abortion and conquer sexual assault, sex trafficking, and domestic violence. Defining consent is the fuel to ignite meaningful change!
The Consent Awareness Network (CAN) will amplify the outreach of every candidate who signs this pledge. You simply need to provide your name and your state in the comment section below:
“If elected, I pledge to define CONSENT clearly in our laws so that every prosecutor, judge, juror, defense counsel, would-be predator, and individual in my jurisdiction, knows that CONSENT is a freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, by a person with the capacity to reason!”
For all voters….
Share this pledge with every candidate for office to raise awareness and make an educated decision about your vote!
Watching the latest Cosby show, his appeal hearing in front of Pennsylvania’s highest court, you’d think that rape was a legal-ease, hair splitting triviality, rather than a defiling, premeditated, vicious cruelty.
On December first, the attorneys for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and for Bill Cosby’s defense, presented their positions to Pennsylvania’s seven Supreme Court Justices; Thomas G. Saylor, Debra Todd, Max Baer, Kevin M. Dougherty, Christine Donohue, David N. Wecht, and Sallie Updyke Mundy, to decide Cosby’s fate. He is appealing his Aggravated Indecent Assault conviction which was previously upheld by a lower appeals court
First Basis for Appeal-
Cosby’s defense attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, argued that Cosby had been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for not exercising his right to plead “the fifth” in the civil case brought by Andrea Constand, a victim he lured to his home under the guise of “mentorship,” in order to drug and sexually assault her. In his civil case deposition, Cosby testified that he slipped Constand Benadryl, that he had several prescriptions for Quaaludes that he intended for sex targets, and was unaware if Constand had consented.
No evidence or document exists to support that such an immunity agreement actually existed. In fact, the only written document regarding immunity was an article published back then in the National Enquirer.
Contrary to Cosby’s assertion that District Attorney Bruce Castor gave him full immunity from prosecution, the actual 2005 article quotes Castor as having said that the commonwealth “retains the right to reopen the case if the need arises.” The Commonwealth’s attorney, Robert Fallin, reminded the seven Supreme Court justices that such language was customary in all immunity agreements.
During the civil action, Cosby was questioned, and did not plead the fifth, regarding additional bad acts he conducted in other jurisdictions, where Castor had absolutely no control. The fact that Cosby only spoke under the belief that he would not be prosecuted, when in fact he spoke candidly about events in locations without a promise of immunity, additionally belies the defense’s argument. Time will tell whether the present justices will acknowledge the weight of these facts. Their decision could take several weeks.
Second Basis for Appeal-
Bonjean claimed the prosecution’s introduction of five witnesses to establish Cosby’s consistent nonconsensual sexual conduct unfairly tainted his character in the eyes of the jury. The judges questioned whether their testimony elicited a conviction based on a character assault, rather than the commission of a crime…. thereby rendering the trial “unfair.”
The Judges React-
What followed was word salad from the justices, splitting hairs over how similar the additional cases were and whether they contained probative value rather than a smear campaign. Justice Christine Donohue said. “I just don’t see it.” and Justice Max Baer remarked, “I tend to agree that the evidence was extremely prejudicial.”
Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Jappe, for the prosecution, argued that because “consent” was in question, prior claims that assaults without consent had taken place were needed to prove Cosby’s pattern of sequestering young women and stripping them of their defenses by administering drugs.
Giving Cosby a pass because he committed multiple bad acts only serves to enlighten society that conducting serial crimes can cause dismissal, while an individual crime would not. The additional irony is how rarely offenders who commit individual sexual assaults are brought to justice.
Pennsylvania’s law says…..
Under 225 Pa. Code § 404, (b) (2) prior bad-act witnesses can be used to prove motive, opportunity, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.
The justices questioned the validity of arguing the “absence of mistake,” and seemed to be siding with the defense by asking “Where do we draw the line? How many witnesses would be too much?”
Ms. Jappe aptly responded with case histories in which testimony by multiple “prior bad-act” witnesses was admitted. The justices seemed to overlook that the additional witnesses proved Cosby’s planning, preparation, and knowledge of the crime.
Neither the trial judge, Steven O’Neill, nor the prosecutor can change the fact that the accused is a repetitive monster. Should we dismiss findings because the person is simply too vile to prosecute? That prospect is simply gag-worthy!
How bad is bad?
The prosecutor had located nineteen witnesses who had agreed to testify. Judge O’Neill told them to pick five of the eight he’d selected. The Supreme Court justices should not be micro-managing Judge O’Neill’s decision on how to balance the probative value of testimony vs. the potential for unfair prejudice, particularly because Pennsylvania’s laws make no distinction regarding the amount of such witnesses that are allowable, therefore leaving that choice to the trial judge’s discretion.
Bonjean claimed that the added testimony took up 50% of the court’s time. Jappe countered that their testimony took two days out of a ten day trial.
Convicting Cosby would have been a slam dunk if CONSENT were defined by law in PA!
Since, in the civil case, Cosby had admitted, under oath, he did not know if Constand had consented, on that basis alone, his sexual conduct would have been charged as unlawful. Instead, his case is mired in legalistic wrangling that thwarts commonsense and justice.
Bill Cosby deserves incarceration. If these justices fail to dispense justice where it’s sorely needed, they send a blatant message to society that Pennsylvania’s laws will only prosecute predators who are caught red-handed as they bludgeon their victims within an inch of their lives.
Trying cases when victims are drugged, drunk, or otherwise unconscious are particularly difficult to prosecute because the victim is unable to explain what happened to them while their brains failed to process pertinent data. Providing additional testimony to establish a pattern of behavior is an important prosecution practice to take monsters like Cosby off the street. Failing to recognize the importance of additional witnesses in these cases would be a grotesque miscarriage of justice.
The important facts each justice should recognize are the following:
There is no limit to how many bad-act witnesses a judge may allow to help prove motive, opportunity, preparation, planning, and knowledge.
It is inconceivable that a communication as important as a promise of immunity was not codified in writing, filed with the court, and cannot be produced by the defendant or the defendant’s lawyers.
A claim that a District Attorney would relinquish the commonwealth’s right to pursue the case, if additional evidence warranted their doing so, flies in the face of the norm in Pennsylvania, and is contrary to the only documentation, the National Enquirer article, that was written at the time- based on the press release issued by Cantor.
What can you do to help?
Unfortunately, judicial rules of ethics prohibit justices from case discussions with the public. Any correspondence from you would be discarded. While we can’t reach out to the justices who hold Cosby, and therefore his victims’ fates in their hands, we can make every effort to insure that Pennsylvania’s, or any state’s, victim-blaming, inappropriate laws are never repeated.
CAN has worked with legislators in Pennsylvania to codify consent in its penal code. This specific, glaring omission in Pennsylvania’s laws gives rise to the public’s gross misconceptions of what actually constitutes a sexual assault, and thrusts the possibility of conviction into the quicksand of legal-ease and archaic thought.
Write to the Pennsylvania legislators to support our efforts to #CodifyConsent in Pennsylvania’s laws so that we will never see legal wrangling again over the conviction of a serial rapist, or denial of justice to sexual assault victims.
Send your note!
Please send a note of appreciation to:
Senator Katie Muth at email@example.com
Representative Wendi Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to thank them for their support in creating the sorely needed transformational change that accurately defining consent as “Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement, #FGKIA,” will create in Pennsylvania’s laws and echo across the US and around the world!
As Domestic Violence Awareness Month (#DVAM) winds down, we are nowhere nearer to the solution.
In fact, just this month in Indiana, legislators passed on an opportunity to make a difference! Their Legislative Interim Study on Consent, headed by State Representative Wendy McNamara, closed down without any stated effort to bring about change despite objections from legislators on both sides of the aisle.
Consent is critical in any conduct in which one person touches another. And when the person touches the reproductive organs of another, or performs any physical contact to engage the other person sexually, they must have CONSENT. Commonsense is pretty clear that this is so.
The problem is, no state speaks definitively about what consent actually is……. leaving the police, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the public with no guidance, and only a few restricted ways to hold sexual predators accountable.
Several important codes that regulate the public’s understanding of consent, Model Penal Code, Nuremberg Code and General Data Protection Regulation, all tell us the same thing….. Consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA.
COVID 19 has forced domestic violence victims to isolate with predators who prey on them, This reality has caused legislators to take emergency measures to support services that provide sanctuary to victims. But still, they overlook the fundamental cure to preventing domestic violence from happening in the first place,….. the clear and simple recognition of “consent” that will hold offenders accountable!
Defining consent makes police action mandatory in sexual abuse cases because an obvious, blatant crime is taking place. An officer who fails to take action is aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime.
Until we #CodifyConsent in our laws, abusers, attackers, predators, and rapists have the upper hand, while victims are left at their mercy and denied their 14th amendment right to equal protection under the law.
Contact your legislators! Your vote is your voice! Only vote for candidates who pledge to #CodifyConsent in our laws!
Want to help conquer sexual assault and domestic violence?
On October 6th, the Legislative Interim Study Committee on Consent in Indiana, comprised of 14 Indiana legislators, and led by Representative Wendy McNamara, proved that legislators give lip-service to the problem of sexual assault, but fail to produce meaningful solutions.
In spite of protests by three legislators from both sides of the aisle, McNamara insisted on filing her committee’s report with NO support for a consent bill. She even refused to include any mention that the committee would continue to research and work toward a solution.
According to The Statehouse File.com from Franklin College, McNamara said: “I don’t think we necessarily gleaned from testimony that we need a definition as a state. I’m not prepared at this time to say we in essence recommend that we have to have a definition.”
Apparently, we need to ask Representative McNamara- “How does an obscure concept of CONSENT possibly convey an understanding of rape to the residents of Indiana? And how do you expect sexual predators to be held accountable when you, as a law maker who your constituents have entrusted with protecting them, knowingly fail to define consent in Indiana’s laws?”
In the upcoming election, voters should be deeply concerned with supporting candidates who fail to pledge to #CodifyConsent. The people of Indiana will know how their candidates stand on this issue because CAN will be tweeting every candidate over the next few weeks. And you, no matter what state or jurisdiction you live in, should do the same….. #WillYouCodifyConsent?
The Consent Awareness Network placed the need for a consent definition in Indiana right in front of the committee members’ noses.
In fact, the launch of the committee’s efforts began with a video we submitted, featuring Weinstein Survivors, Mimi Haley and Tarale Wulff, like this one. Their testimony included the fact that the jury asked for the definition for consent, and that because New York state also fails to define consent in its penal code, the judge simply replied, “Use your commonsense.”
Does McNamara actually believe that each jury should make up their own definition for consent, or should they decide the case based on the evidence presented at trial? How does making up their own definition serve society’s right for the equal protection under the law granted by the 14th Amendment of the United States?
Here’s why legislators turn a blind eye to defining consent in our laws:
Centuries of horrifically ignoring sexual sanctity are so engrained in our penal codes that legislators are tone deaf on changing the laws.
Our laws recognize that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement #FGKIA when protecting your property, your medical decisions, your identity on the internet, and countless other things. But the need for applying that same concept to protecting a woman’s body is treated as absurd and unimportant.
Our forefathers, many of whom had horrific records of indecent sexual conduct, fashioned laws with no regard for women, and still do so even though sexual assault can affect men as well. But there are far more voting males who are covert sexual predators, then the amount of voting male victims of sexual assault. To legislators, votes matter!
It’s baffling how law makers rely on the opinions of the legal establishment to determine what harms their constituents suffer.
Behaviors are and should be crimes because of the harm they inflict on society; not the ease or difficulty to prosecute in a court of law. Law makers put more stock in what the legal establishment says about prosecution than what their constituents actually need for protection.
The Consent Awareness Network has engaged in efforts to secure appropriate “Consent” language in penal codes in several states including MA, PA, AK, UT, NY, IN, TX, SC, and more. Each legislator we spoke with is clear that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA, but in each and every state, the legislative reliance on the legal establishment is creating an impasse to securing appropriate protections for society.
Lawmakers did not have to ask permission from the legal establishment to determine what constitutes murder. We all know that the pre-meditated killing of another human being is a crime. The US Department of Justice Statistics tells us that only one third of violent crimes actually lead to an arrest. Despite the difficulty pursuing murderers, we still recognize what murder actually is. Despite the difficulty pursuing sexual predators, our laws must correctly state that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, and that nonconsensual sex is a crime!
Call your legislator. Demand that they #CodifyConsent in your state. If you’d like CAN’s help securing correctly defined “consent” in your penal code, contact us at info@ConsentAwareness.net.
Once our lawmakers get CONSENT right, the legal establishment will have to prosecute or defend sexual assault cases according to the law. Reliance on the legal establishment to create the law is like the tail wagging the dog! In this case, it’s a very complacent, cavalier dog that thinks society won’t recognize how complicit they are in enabling rape.
Stop the ignorant nonsense. Demand that legislators #CodifyConsent today!
Today is a very special day. Today, we wear the color teal because it’s the day we devote to taking action to prevent sexual assault. And even though we’ve all been put on pause, there is still much we can do to bring the scourge of sexual assault to its knees!
April 18, 2019- Doylestown, PA- Steve Humanick of Stone Harbor, NJ, faced two accusers yesterday in open court. One victim is currently seeking a restraining order against him to protect herself and her family. The other previously received a settlement in a civil action against him, and testified under oath that Humanick had raped her. Continue reading Steve Humanick Is Back in Court→
Kudos to Eve Wiley from Dallas TX, who inspired a precedent setting sexual assault by fraud bill, approved by legislators in Austin yesterday! Speaking about the offender, Representative Stephanie Klick, the bill’s sponsor in the House of Representatives, said, “This is a person who you really trust and they betrayed you.” She was referring to the case of Wiley’s mother who had been duped by Dr. Kim McMorries.
Watch #SeedOfDoubt on ABC’s 20/20 tomorrow night, 10/9c, to see yet another way the laws of Texas denies justice to its residents!
Be sure to watch this compelling story, and contact your legislators to demand that “fraud” be an element of sexual assault in your state!
20/20’s episode shows how a young woman who came to life as the product of artificial insemination, believed her father was donor #106, and they enjoyed a close father/daughter bond….. except….he wasn’t really her father.
Consent is the critical key that should separate lawful contact with a victim’s reproductive organs from unlawful contact. Yet in Texas, sexual assault law does not protect against a fertility doctor swapping sperm to implant his patient…. a decidedly vicious sexual assault by fraud.
Consent is not simply agreement.
Consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA.
Unless and until Texas Penal Code applies consent appropriately and states that all conduct involving a person’s reproductive system – that lacks consent – is a crime, criminal behavior such as this will continue to fall through legal loopholes.
Swapping sperm violates victims on several fronts:
Fraud vitiates the consent form which was required in order to perform the medical procedure since the patient was not knowledgeable….. rendering the medical procedure an illegal act.
Fraud violates the victim’s sexual autonomy, a sexual assault, because the patient was not knowledgeable and informed. She could only “assent” which means “agreement on the face of it.” She could not “consent” which means “freely given. knowledgeable and informed agreement.”
In matters of reproduction, fraud creates the bond of pseudo-family. Revelation could be devastating to all parties.
The laws of Texas are upon you, or, at least, they should be
In Texas, “consent” is ignored where rape and sexual assault is concerned. In several efforts to report rapes to various precincts, police officers, and even a Sergeant, recently told victims, “Consent is not an element of rape in Texas.”
Violating consent is clear when someone steals property…. but the same consent provision that protects property is not applied in protecting a person’s sexual autonomy. Instead, the legislators of Texas have chosen specific acts of sexual assault to prosecute… a system consistent with using an umbrella made of Swiss cheese to protect against a storm.
Texas should take a cue from Missouri or from my TEDx Talk!
Unlike Texas where fraud only protects against theft and not sexual assault, Missouri’s Rape in the 2nd Degree statute clearly states: “Assent is not consent when induced by force, duress or deception,” While Missouri expresses when consent does not take place, my TEDx Talk, “When YES Means NO – The Truth about Consent,” clearly defines what consent actually is – Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement. #FGKIA!
Did the patient freely give the doctor knowledgeable and informed agreement? There’s no Swiss cheese when #FGKIA is applied. It’s an all-encompassing umbrella!
Kudos to Abby Ellin for getting this right!! As an author about a very contentious subject, I’m often concerned about my words getting twisted, but Ms. Ellin was thorough about the important points and spot-on in the message she’s conveyed.
The #FGKIA definition for consent, “Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement,” is the REAL definition for consent. We need to drive #FGKIA into the consciousness of society! Adopting this language into law will not only open society’s eyes to defrauding victims of sex, but will help conquer all forms of sexual assault! We can no longer tolerate our legislators picking and choosing specific types of sexual assaults to prosecute, when ALL FORMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IS – WAS – AND FOREVER WILL BE A CRIME!
Failure to recognize this definition not only impacts sex by deception victims, but prevents society from understanding what actually constitutes rape.
For the NY Times to be dealing with the issue of sexual assault by deception is a huge step forward to enlighten society. Please read this article and write your opinion in the comment section. Use your voice to make the world a safer place!
Were you denied a police report when you summoned the courage to unburden your soul at a precinct? Did your aching heart get re-victimized when they told you the damage you suffered was not enough to warrant their attention?
Knowing what I do about sexual assault, that our laws really don’t define “consent” correctly, it pains me to see all the misguided efforts by intelligent, serious minded people who try to come to grips with the rampant volume of sexual assault. There really is one, and only one, necessary solution…. correctly defining consent in our laws, and creating a fully encompassing sexual assault provision to sync with that definition.
Without taking this critical step, sexual assault will never be defeated! Instead, we’re simply sticking a band aid over an amputation. #MeToo has highlighted the problem but too many sexual assaults are falling through the cracks in legal loopholes or being termed “confusion” or “bad sex,” by an unknowing society.
How terrible are our current laws?
My ConsentAwareness.Net friends who are fighting to change the laws in Texas know only too well how absurd the current laws are in their state. They’ve been to five precincts in the last couple of weeks. Even though Texas has a reasonably clear definition, it is only used to thwart thieves, not rapists. In fact, in the specific words of a precinct Sergeant in Ft. Worth…. “Sexual assault is not defined by consent in Texas.” If you think your state is better at recognizing sexual assault, think again!
Curbing crime takes both definitions and provisions
To fight sexual assault, we need new language that identifies what consent actually means…… “Freely Given, Knowledgeable, and Informed Agreement.” And each state or territory needs a statute that unequivocally states, “Nonconsensual sex is sexual assault.”
Penal Code definitions AND provisions need to work in unison in order to make sense. Having one without the other is an ineffective non-starter.
The solution’s not rocket science. It’s plain and simple. It’s been ignored for centuries because our laws reflected the concepts that women, the largest share of sexual assault victims, were chattel. Their virtue was a commodity owned by someone other than them. What happened to them, as second class citizens, was irrelevant. Because few actually examined our laws and researched the misconceptions that enables rape in our present society, nothing substantive has been done about it.
I’ve researched our laws….It’s time for a change!
Your Consent – The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault conveys the issues in plain language. Whether you’re a legislator, an educator, a judge, juror, or simply a concerned person, you can easily understand the message it conveys. This book can make a world of difference, and YOU can help make that happen!
Please get your copy today!
Please provide a comment and a rating!
Please help this work get noticed by the mainstream. It costs less than lunch money and can make the world safer for you, your children, and your children’s children.
Jamaican law is far superior to US law when it comes to recognizing the horror of rape by fraud! Read this important article, written by Orville Taylor and published today in The Gleanerin Kingston Jamaica. Pay close attention to this statement:
“Indeed, capacity is also affected by knowledge so that if someone pretends to be someone else and gets to engage in intimate contact with the ‘victim’ by fraud, it is assault and rape if it goes far enough. Believe it: If a woman masquerades as a man, and, based on deception, gets into sexual activities with a heterosexual woman, it is also assault.”
There is simply no excuse for our US laws to disregard the heinous assault on the victim in cases where a sexual predator’s weapon of choice is trickery!
If our laws were clear that consent is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA, accountability would exist for all types of sex crimes, not simply the specific mentions our law makers call “sexual assault” or “rape,” while completely ignoring all the rest!
July 30- Today’s court date for Harvey Weinstein has been postponed ’til September 20th.
What will happen then?
Superior Court Justice Jame Burke will deliver his decisions on motions that have been filed “off-calendar” by the prosecution and the defense. Those motions could include a decision to admit evidence of “prior bad acts” into testimony.
New York judges are held to narrower constraints than in Pennsylvania, where admitting testimony from prior victims turned the tide against Bill Cosby.
The impact of consent
If NY’s laws defined consent as “freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA,” convicting Harvey Weinstein would be a slam dunk! But in NY, like many other states, prosecutors are held to convincing the jury that the offender’s conduct meets specific language for a particular act that has been legislated as “without consent” in penal code. This narrow approach makes it difficult to prove whether a sexual assault took place…. not because the case lacks evidence, but because the law simply fails to define the specific type of sexual assault that occurred. Coercing a person into acquiescence should never be seen as “consent” in our laws.
A similar current case in Manhattan could provide clues to Harvey Weinstein’s fate
Neurologist Ricardo Cruciani is scheduled for a decision on motions on August 2nd. He, like Weinstein, is charged with Predatory Sexual Assault, which carries harsh penalties under NY State law.
Cruciani stands accused by six patients of molesting and sexually assaulting them at his office at Beth Israel Hospital in NYC. One patient described that she felt helpless to resist his attacks because she suffered from chronic pain. He was the only doctor who’d helped manage her pain for several years. Eleven other patients at his practices in PA and NJ made similar claims against him. Supreme Court Justice Mark Dwyer will announce his decisions on the Cruciani motions on Thursday, August 2nd.
For more information on how consent impacts sexual assault…. watch this TEDx Talk.
July 25, 2018- NYC- A major milestone to define CONSENT took place today! Subsequent to my TEDx Talk, “When YES Means NO, the Truth About Consent,” two legislators, Indiana State Representative, Sally Siegrist (R) and NY State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright (D) pledged their bipartisan support to establish a clear definition for consent in the laws of their respectively red and blue states. This meeting of the minds shows that no matter what your politics, we can all unite against sexual assault!
Rep. Siegrist, who successfully fought for legislation to curb human trafficking in Indiana in last year’s legislative session, is determined to conquer sexual assault for her state. Here’s the link to her newsletter. Together with Assembly Member Seawright, a long time champion for women’s rights and the former Chair of the Board of the Feminist Press, they make a powerful pair!
Clearly defining consent will enable the police, prosecutors, judges and jurors to hold sexual predators accountable under the law and prevent the confusion between what constitutes “bad sex” or an actual sexual assault.
“Confusion over what consent actually is makes it difficult for society to comprehend. Our laws don’t tell us the definition. They only tell us what “consent” is not. We need laws to express the real meaning of consent…. Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement, #FGKIA,” says Short.
Both Indiana and NY will have legislative efforts to drive the issue of consent forward, and YOU can help! If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault in either Indiana or NY and would like to speak out at a legislative hearing on this issue, please complete the totally private form below.
Also, if you are interested in helping to get other states to focus on this issue, please complete the form that follows.
On May 30th, at the Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye Wales, an annual literature and arts festival, Germaine Greer made some devastatingly damaging claims about rape including that rape is just ”bad sex” and calling for lower penalties for sexual assault. Greer is an author and academic born in Australia and residing in the UK.
Her comments not only fly in the face of #MeToo and #TimesUp, but also my TEDxYouth@UrsulineAcademy talk (#TEDxUA and #TEDxUrsulineAcademy) that’s soon to be released.
“Most rapes don’t involve any injury whatsoever,” she said. “Centuries of writing and thinking about rape — as inflicted by men on women — have got us nowhere.” Rape, she said, should be viewed as a “lazy, careless and insensitive” act.
“Every time a man rolls over on his exhausted wife and insists on enjoying his conjugal rights, he is raping her,” she said. “It will never end up in a court of law.” She added, “Instead of thinking of rape as a spectacularly violent crime — and some rapes are — think about it as nonconsensual, that is, bad sex.”
She said the penalty should be 200 hours of community service: “If we are going to say trust us, believe us, if we do say that our accusation should stand as evidence, then we have to reduce the tariff for rape.” (In England, the maximum sentence for rape can be life in prison.)
At one point, Ms. Greer said the punishment could be an “r” tattooed to the rapist’s hand, arm or cheek.
While Greer is correct that not all sexual assaults are violent rapes, she fails to recognize the destruction of a victim’s self worth in all sexual assaults. So while not all sexual assaults are violent, and therefore punishable as an “aggravated” crime, they should still be punished, and a tatoo doesn’t cut it!
Every human being deserves the right to freely give knowledgeable and informed agreement #FGKIA every time they engage in sexual conduct. Without that willingness to engage, – whether undermined by force, duress or ripped from them by deception – they are being assaulted, not seduced. Force, otherwise known as violence, is only one of several ways a victim is deprived of consent (#FGKIA.) But all nonconsensual sex harms the victim. And everyone engaging in sex is entitled to consent to both the action itself and the actor.
How do we fix rape?
Our laws must reflect the proper definition of consent…. #FGKIA! in order to properly deal with sexual assaults of all kinds. Properly defining consent as freely given knowledgeable and informed agreement, #FGKIA, is the solution….. not decriminalizing this egregious and life altering crime!
Virginia’s Penal Code addresses rape by fraud in a clear manner. Using “ruse” to undermine a victim’s consent is considered Sexual Battery, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Crimes like the one committed by Donald Ward in Indiana, should qualify as Sexual Battery by Ruse in Virginia. Ward crept into the bed of a sleeping co-ed at Purdue University and engaged her in sex. The victim was asleep in her boyfriend’s bed and believed Ward was him.
Virginia’s treatment of sexual assaults is sensible. Their penal code divides misconduct by forcible and aggravated cases and lessor crimes. Initial violent convictions result in felony charges, but repeat misdemeanor offenses will raise the level of the charge to a felony.
Most sexual battery offenses, whether violent or not, will result in mandatory registration on the sex offender list.
Additionally, Virginia will prosecute offenders who transmit Aids, HIV, Hepatitis B or Syphillis.
If you’ve been sexually assaulted through a ruse in Virginia, please notify me at StopRomanceScams@ymail.com.
A. An accused is guilty of sexual battery if he sexually abuses, as definedin 18.2-67.10, (i) the complaining witness against the will of the complaining witness, by force, threat, intimidation, or ruse.
Amid shouts of “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Donald Trump has gotta go!” and “Trump is not my President, You’re fired White House resident!” throngs of women, men and children wound our way through the streets of midtown Manhattan yesterday. The sea of hopeful faces marched forward in solidarity with hope for renewed political integrity and equality for all mankind.
While I try to refrain from comparing anyone’s pain to the harm experienced by others, recent political impacts have helped me recognize how struggling through injustice with no possible relief makes people feel invisible. Hearing hate speech and seeing sexual dysfunction from institutions we relied on as the source of decency, cuts deeply into our collective self esteem. It was uplifting to travel together, surrounded by those who embraced morality and humanity, even if only for four hours.
The sight of the Trump Hotel inspired my sense of irony as I invited my favorite New York State Assembly Member, Rebecca Seawright, to join me in holding up my poster: CONSENT = #FGKIA, Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement. I pray we can see these words indelibly inscribed into the penal code of NY and every state before we march again in 2019!
You can help by calling your legislators to demand that they make it happen! #FGKIA can be the solution for #MeToo, #TimesUp and the gross confusion over sexual assault and sexual harassment that enables sexual predators like Weinstein, Cosby, Moore and Trump to go unpunished. It can end the invisibility that sex crimes create in a world blinded by ignorance!
Call your legislator and say, #FGKIA – Sign it into law today!