Does lying about sexual preference constitute rape by fraud?
I was asked this question by a blog participant, and I believe its importance warrants a post of its own. Her question was framed in light of recent developments in penal code in New Jersey, but the answer is universal. So, here’s my response…..
Pertaining to New Jersey
First off, law in NJ has not been finalized, so it’s premature to give you a definitive answer for that specific state. Even once the statute is submitted to the Assembly, a significant amount of debate, and the submission of amendments, may alter its language.
But I’d like to answer your question from a broader perspective, that of whether pretending to be straight actually qualifies. generically, as sexual assault by fraud.
Character distortion and how it applies
There are basically two types of lies that offenders will use in fraud in the “inducement,” which is the sort of fraud where the actor pretends to be something or someone they are not. There are lies of “intent” and lies of “identity.” In the case you’re referring to, denying that someone is gay would seem to be a major character lie and, therefore, meet the definition of a lie of false identity.
Obstacles for this particular circumstance
But here’s where the line gets blurred….. All victims of lies of identity will feel defiled. And the longer the lie is perpetuated, the greater the harm they suffer. The victim is embroiled in a hoax. Unfortunately, however, when you speak of lies about a person’s sexual proclivity, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to whether the person deliberately lied to mislead you, or were they struggling through their own personal identification issues? In other words, were they lying to you, or lying to themselves? It’s only a deliberate lie if the answer is, unequivocally, they were fully aware and lying intentionally.
Another obstacle to hurdle is whether concealment is a form of lying. In some states it is. In others, it’s not.
I’m told that people who are gay know it from an early age. I’m no expert, however, and conceivably, this could differ from person to person. But certainly, if the actor knew he was gay, and intentionally pretended to be straight because attachment to you gave him “cover,” indeed, in my opinion, he would have been conducting sexual assault by fraud.
A person’s actual motivations are extremely difficult to prove in a courtroom. One would think that having had past homosexual liaisons would be a sure tip off. But we have so little concrete awareness of when and how people deem themselves to be homosexual, that I could see this type of case posing significant challenges in a courtroom.
But that should not deter the victim from coming to grips with the fact that they suffered rape by fraud. We don’t need a judge’s decision to know how we feel, but only to prosecute offenders. We would hope that offenders would be deterred by society’s penal codes, and that’s why we establish them. Also, we attempt to seek justice for the victims of crimes by enforcing those laws.
When did his actions cross the line?
If your husband had doubts when he married you, somewhere along the line, his doubts turned into conviction. And at that time, it was his responsibility to let you know. Every time he engaged in sexual contact with you under false pretenses, he was simply selfishly holding onto the perks in his life, that he valued, by denying you your inherent right to self determination over your personal sexual sanctity. And, by the way, this same principle would hold true in a relationship where the woman was gay and the man was straight.
Applying the concept of Emotional Rape
It is also my belief that you were emotionally raped. Emotional rape results when an offender steals your highest emotion, which is love, through deception. Even if he never laid a hand on you once he conceived of himself as gay, he selfishly fed the bond that kept you together by fabricating and perpetuating a hoax. In fact, part of his subterfuge was likely to have included undermining your feelings of attractiveness and desirability to cover up for his lack of sexual interest in you. Since emotional rape is not a physical act, it is unlikely you will ever see penal code to punish offenders. That should not deter victims, however, from feeling validation regarding their sense of defilement.