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!
Many of us will soon be thanking God for our ability to check into a hospital. We’ll be counting on the help of courageous, medical front-liners, who put themselves at risk to heal us from COVID-19.
As we approach the reception desk for intake, we won’t give a second thought to signing the CONSENT form that hospitals require. We’ll happily jot down our signature and scribble our initials where required. Some of us won’t even bother reading the form. Even less will contemplate the horrific travesty and social injustice Continue reading What can COVID-19 teach us about CONSENT?→
Friday- 3/20- According to the Associated Press- Toledo plastic surgeon, Manish Gupta, who also practiced in Michigan, was indicted for sex trafficking 20 female victims by force, fraud or coercion, and one count of illegally distributing a controlled substance. His case made front page news with the News-Herald, the Detroit Free Press, and the Sentinel Tribune. And 24News WNWO covered the story.
At last! Rapist Harvey Weinstein has been handcuffed and remanded into custody. He will no longer hobble down the steps of 100 Centre Street, pandering for sympathy, as he departs the courtroom. He’s in custody awaiting sentencing on March 11th.
Although his attorneys are likely to attempt to secure his release pending appeal, they are unlikely to prevail.
Will Weinstein’s conviction change anything?
His New York based attorney, Arthur Aidala, made several important statements to New York One reporter, Dean Meminger, just steps from the courthouse after the verdict. “If his name was Harvey Jones, he would not have been charged.”
Unfortunately, Aidala is absolutely correct… but not for the reasons he suspects…..
This case received tremendous attention by the press because of Weinstein’s notoriety and because his victims were celebrities. Far from his treatment being unfair because he was singled out, it shows the failure of the system to deal with sexual assault when the victims lack private attorneys like Gloria Allred to represent their interests and are “unknowns” with no press reach or clout.
Aidala also commented that Weinstein reacted, “I didn’t force anyone. I didn’t have to force anyone,” as if “force”is the only weapon in a rapist’s arsenal. Aidala needs a lesson on “consent” and needs to grasp that “consent” is FREELY GIVEN, KNOWLEDGEABLE AND INFORMED AGREEMENT. #FGKIA!
Force, coercion and deception cannot be used to influence agreement in sexual conduct. Weinstein was not only convicted of forcible rape, but also of third degree rape which, in New York, does not depend on “force.” The “absence of consent” results when a sexual predator uses the threat of harm, including destruction of someone’s career, to influence their agreement.
Although Weinstein’s defense team argued that the victims continued their relationships with him after the events in question, they failed to recognize that Weinstein’s control over their careers motivated their continued involvement with him.
Gloria Allred spoke out
Allred addressed reporters subsequent to the verdict. Her client list of “silence breakers,” women who came forward with complaints against Weinstein, includes Mimi Hailey, the victim of Criminal Sexual Assault in this case.
Allred applauded the women who “sacrificed their privacy in the interest of justice,” and called them “role models in courage.”
Allred could make a tremendous contribution to society by recognizing that most victims could only dream of enlisting her aid. There will be no grand movements like #MeToo to focus on their individual struggles. Her greatest accomplishment could be helping to define the meaning of consent in our laws because the masses need to rely on the justice system to do the right thing. Without the meaning of consent defined by law, their dream of justice is a horrific and demoralizing nightmare.
The news coverage on the Weinstein case fails to acknowledge the importance of defining consent in our laws. Society desperately needs this information! Doing so is the critical key to conquering sexual assault. If the Weinstein case has shown us anything, it is how poorly CONSENT is understood by society and our laws. We need this to change!!
Judge James Burke charged Harvey Weinstein’s jury today.
Shortly after deliberations began, the jurors sent a number of questions to the judge. Their list included, “What’s the legal definition for consent?”
The Cosby jurors asked the same question of Judge Steven O’Neill. He responded, “You’re reasonable people; use your common sense.”
So what did Burke say?
……………………. “Use your common sense,”
Because neither NY nor PA define consent in their laws, the judges’ responses were typical. And Weinstein’s lead attorney, Donna Rotunno, didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this question was coming.
She attempted a preemptive strike in her summation. She told the jury to “use their common sense,” to persuade them that doing so would be cause for acquittal when and if Judge Burke responded the same way.
The Consent Awareness Network (CAN) is fighting to define consent in our laws so that a clear definition guides jurors, guides society’s behavior, and holds sexual predators accountable. Leaving “consent” up to the “common sense” of sexual predators will never conquer sexual assault!
We got lucky in the Cosby case!
The foreperson for the jury, Cheryl Carmel, was a cyber security expert. She was very familiar with the definition for consent in General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is international law and defines consent.
The GDPR definition is the same as the definition I introduced in my TEDx Talk: “Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement, #FGKIA.” Coincidentally, GDPR went into effect in May of 2018. My TEDx Talk was presented in May of 2018.
We need to pray that Weinstein’s jury has researched the meaning of consent.
They could find the consent provision in Model Penal Code, or the definitions in Nuremberg Code, GDPR, and my TEDx Talk. Without the actual definition for consent, a jury’s ability to convict is seriously hampered.
Forcing or coercing a victim is not consent because consent must be freely given, knowledgeable and informed. The use of force, threat, (such as negatively impacting a person’s career or livelihood), and trickery, are absolutely not consent.
Without clearly stating the definition for consent in our laws, locking up sexual predators is a crap-shoot. Some juries will be aware. Some will not. Let’s hope this jury is aware.
But don’t despair if they’re not aware……
I’m crossing every finger and toe…. and sending countless prayers up to the heavens….. that Weinstein gets convicted. But without a clear definition for consent and defense council insisting that he had consent…. he may not. And we need to be prepared.
In NY, coercion is a crime in and of itself. If this case ends with a hung jury, the prosecutor’s next attempt should additionally indict Weinstein for coercion. Coercion for sexual contact is a Class E Felony. and it is specific that coercion includes making someone fearful about their career or income. The sentence for Class E Felonies is 2 to 5 years. If there are multiple victims, the sentences do not have to run concurrently. The statute of limitations is 5 years. However, if he is acquitted, double jeopardy would apply unless new complainants step forward with cases that occurred within the past five years.
The unthinkable is likely
Unfortunately, even though I’m totally convinced that Weinstein did everything he was accused of, I don’t think the case presented by the ADA, without a clear definition for consent, is strong enough to convict him. For that reason, I’m hoping that at least there will be a hung jury, which would give the ADA an opportunity to enlighten the next jury about coercion and acquiescence and bring coercion charges against him.
Important considerations for the jury
Some of the current Weinstein jurors could understand consent while others may not. Some could grasp that a victim who suffered the grotesque humiliation of defilement would not want to add the added loss of their career to their suffering by going public or reporting the incident to the police. After the fact, coming forward against a man who their industry revered, and risk being blackballed, would be an imposing obstacle.
Weinstein picked most of his victims because of their career interests. He knew how much they could lose by accusing him of his hideous deeds. They might never have worked in their craft again. They would not only have suffered the harm of defilement, but the exponential loss of their dreams.
Society and sexual assault victims deserve better!
A not guilty verdict would not be a testament to his innocence. Rather, it would be a testament to society’s confusion about consent. If he’s convicted, it’s because at least this jury got it right. But what about the next one?
Friday, 2/7/2020- In an effort to impugn the memories of terror and outrageous attack, sworn to by Harvey Weinstein’s victims, his defense trotted out a highly established expert on memory and cognitive perception. Distinguished UC Irvine Professor and Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, testified to how memory can become “distorted.”
Even before her testimony began, a battle ensued between the defense and prosecution without the presence of the jury. Judge James Burke set ground rules for the testimony he’d allow. The concept of “gist memory” and specifics of memory related directly to the sexual assault of victims in this case were ruled off limits.
Loftus supplied the typical perceptions of memory fading with time. The prosecution reminded the jury that Loftus was not a medical doctor. In fact, when shown a diagram of brain sectors, she declined knowledge of how memory was stored, and the diagram was removed.
Countless times, she used the word “can,” not “shall,” or “will,” to describe possible impacts of Post Event Information (PEI) . She could not supply data on the likelihood of memory becoming tainted by any specific circumstance except the use of Valium. Her statement drew Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Osborn’s intense ire.
While “expert witness” testimony was allowed in order to provide overall knowledge of how memory works, inclusion of “Valium” seemed coached and specific to a victim who had testified. Loftus acknowledged she was aware of the use of Valium by one of the victims and that she shaped her remark because of that knowledge. She also readily admitted she was being paid $600 per hour for her expert testimony.
When Loftus referred to military testing on soldiers who were being trained to endure the harshness of captivity, and how the researchers conducting the experiment were able to distort their memories, Illuzi-Osborn was able to secure her admission that these subjects knew their lives and their safety were not actually in eminent danger. She pointed to the difference between real trauma and staged events in which the actual danger did not exist.
Ultimately, Loftus had to admit that core memory for trauma could be stronger than for other types of non-traumatic events.
If weighed on the scales of courtroom justice, it seemed that the prosecution made the stronger argument.
I was honored to be a speaker at this year’s Women’s March NYC, and was overwhelmed by the audience support for the Consent Accountability Rhyme.
Anyone, at any age, can learn and understand what “consent” means. This poem makes the definition for consent crystal clear. It is part of the Your Consent for Kids YouTube cartoon that every parent should watch with their children to grow a Consent Aware generation! As well, sex education classes can include it in their programs. It’s free!
We’ve had Generation X, Y and Z. Let’s create Generation “Consent Aware” for our developing kids!
Consent Accountability Rhyme
The words, “You Can,” mean “I consent.”
You say so with your voice.
But it’s not consent when you’re forced, or tricked,
Burdened by helplessness, hopelessness and defilement, scores of #MeToo sufferers exposed offenders who destroyed their lives. Their efforts were aimed at restoring their self-worth and protecting others. But they were hit with the ultimate wallop…… an offender who manipulates the justice system to drown them in a whirlpool of defamation and cyber-stalking charges, destroying the little bit of equilibrium they have left. Continue reading How to Prevent Your #MeToo Truth from Drowning You→
The American Bar Association (ABA) recently attempted to provide recommended wording for “consent” in order to get the states and territories across the US on the same page. You’d think I’d be jumping for joy, but unfortunately, I’m not. And the reason is not because their attempt failed, but because their attempt so woefully missed the mark!
September 18, NY- Flanked by a jubilant Mira Sorvino and Julianne Moore of #TimesUp, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo signed extensions to the statute of limitations for reporting rape crimes throughout NY State. First degree rape victims have no statute of limitations. Second and third degree rape victims will have 20 and 10 years respectively.
Mira Sorvino made a heartfelt statement thanking the Governor but overlooking the most obvious and transformative change that’s still needed to actually conquer sexual assault….. enacting the correct definition for #Consent into the laws of New York: “Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement, #FGKIA!” Continue reading Cuomo & #TimesUp Extend Limitations on Rape Cases→
In the US, states often attempt to define the word “consent” by what it’s not instead of what it is. And our system of justice ironically changes “consent” depending on what you’re consenting to.
Regardless what antiquated, inaccurate penal code tells you, whether consent is applied to cyber security, theft, medical treatment, research experiments, sexual assault, etc., consent is always the same….. #FGKIA, Freely Given, Knowledgeable and Informed Agreement.
Just like postal carriers delivering important mail, neither gusty wind nor heavy rain deterred our staunch “Consent Crusaders” from descending on the Pennsylvania statehouse this past Monday. I was joined by Nina Lucas, our PA Consent Awareness Outreach Ambassador, and Cheryl Carmel, Foreperson for the Bill Cosby jury. We addressed a bipartisan group of five representatives – several of whom were surprised to learn that consent is not defined in their penal code. In attendance were State Representative Wendi Thomas, State Representative Joe Emrick, State Senator Katie Muth and her Legislative Director Sonia Kikeri, Legislative Director David Kozak representing State Senator Wayne Langerholc, and State Representive Joe Ciresi. Each attendee received a copy of Your Consent – The Key to Conquering Sexual Assault and information specifically geared toward the issues in Pennsylvania.
Cheryl Carmel explained that the jurors asked Judge Steven O’Neill what the word “consent” meant in law and they were surprised that no specific definition had been codified into Pennsylvania’s statutes. They were told that as “reasonable people” they needed to use their best judgement, and they did. As the Foreperson, Carmel was tasked with pronouncing Cosby, “Guilty, Guilty, Guilty,” on all three counts.
Rep. Wendi Thomas had begun some of the heavy lifting to create a bill by reaching out to a lawyer to lend a hand. She recommended finding a way to insert a definition in existing law. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of her efforts.
What can you do to help?
I know I sound like a broken record, but the more people who watch my TEDx Talk and read Your Consent– the better informed you and society will be! Please watch, read and spread the word!
Call your legislators and demand change.
If you’d like to be an Outreach Ambassador in your state or territory, reach out to me at Info@ConsentAwareness.Net.
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!
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!
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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.
Will you be in NYC on March 23rd? If so, you’ll receive a warm welcome at the Church of the Advent Hope when I address the congregation on:
What does CONSENT really mean?
As all who read this Web Page know, “Consent” is the crucial weapon in the war on sexual assault! Come help spread the word and find out what you can do to create a society of consent-aware children, our best hope for a safer future.
Today, January 17, 2019, marks a day I’ve long awaited! The very first meaningful rape by fraud/deception/impersonation bill was introduced to Indiana’s House of Representatives this morning. HB 1584 was identified in a condensed reading by House Speaker Brian C. Bosna. It was authored by Rep. Donna Schaibley and supported by former Indiana State Representative, Sally Siegrist. Continue reading Indiana Launches Effort to Criminalize Rape by Deception!→