A young man was acquitted in London this week on a rape charge. His defense? He was asleep.
According to an article in the Telegraph on Monday, the 21-year old defendant, Nick Walker, had gone out drinking with some friends from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. They all went back to a student apartment to crash on the living room floor. A girl, whose name hasn’t been released, told police that she’d felt a “weird sensation” and woke up.
“The woman, a student from Manchester on a weekend break, told jurors she found her pyjama bottoms and knickers yanked down and Mr. Walker having sex with her.”
She pulled up her pants and moved away from him, back onto some cushions as the Mail Online describes. He left early in the morning, without a word to her, and even tried to friend her on Facebook.
During the investigation, Walker told police that this had happened before with his girlfriend, (“We were both asleep and I cuddled up to her and it just went from there") though when he was questioned during the trial he said that it was the stress of the interrogation that caused him to say that.
This is obviously a nightmarish situation—to wake up with a stranger violating you must be an experience that’s hard to shake. But the story raises some questions, which Ami Angelowicz articulated today on The Frisky.
“Whether it was a conscious act or not, the fact remains that this poor girl was raped. Who pays for the crime? Is it fair that this guy should have been cleared of the rape charges?”
As one commenter on that site pointed out, part of a criminal act is the intent of committing that act. And since sleepwalkers cannot have conscious intent, it seems that he’s off the hook.