Why “Forcible Rape” Still Matters

What happens when we allow right-wing politicians with anti-women agendas to get to decide whether a rape is really a rape? We end up with cases like the one in Connecticut, where an alleged rapist gets his sentence overturned because a disabled woman couldn’t prove she physically fought him off.

Via Think Progress:

In a 4-3 ruling Tuesday afternoon, the Connecticut State Supreme Court overturned the sexual assault conviction of a man who had sex with a woman who “has severe cerebral palsy, has the intellectual functional equivalent of a 3-year-old and cannot verbally communicate.” The Court held that, because Connecticut statutes define physical incapacity for the purpose of sexual assault as “unconscious or for any other reason. . . physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act,” the defendant could not be convicted if there was any chance that the victim could have communicated her lack of consent. Since the victim in this case was capable of “biting, kicking, scratching, screeching, groaning or gesturing,” the Court ruled that that victim could have communicated lack of consent despite her serious mental deficiencies.

Apparently now even being physically and mentally unable to say no is the same as consent.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

Follow Robin Marty on twitter: @robinmarty

  • veggietart

    I have read this before on a couple of sites, and it enrages me.


    The woman’s disability is so severe that she has very limited movement, so even if she understood what was happening to her–and I doubt she did–she would not have been able to fight off her attacker.


    If someone rapes an actual child, are they going to overturn his conviction because the child didn’t fight back?


    These judges need to be removed from the bench.

  • crowepps

    The woman has the developmental level of a three year old.  She can barely move.  There is no way she could have consented to have sex.  This decision implies that all woman who possess a vagina are PRESUMED to be consenting to sex any time a man chooses to hold them down and use them, and that they must scream, protest and physically struggle to escape in order to prove they are not.  If you lay still because a man is holding a gun to your head or a knife to your throat, or because he is threatening your children, sorry, it wasn’t ‘real rape’ at all.  Connecticut really, really needs to revise its laws.


    And I certainly hope someone is keeping an eye on Richard Fourtin Jr., because the Supreme Court just educated him in how he can get away with rape so long as he sticks to assaulting the mentally and physically disabled.

  • julie-watkins

    I found an earlier report that has more information. I think what his lawyers argued that the state didn’t prove how disabled the victim was at the time of the attack, just relied on how she was at the trial, how hard it was for her to move. It’s disgusting how much courts can contort to benefit SOME people, and are so rigid for others. I don’t know if this guy was/is rich or not, but there are a lot of men who like to rape and the rich among them are pushing back a lot against the laws & grassroots attempts to constrain them.


  • veggietart

    I don’t know how ong it was from the attack to the trial, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t degrade severly enough to have been able to fend off an attacker at the time of the assault and only able to move her right index finger at the time of the trial.

  • julie-watkins

    That’s something, apparently, that can be the basis for an appeal, grump. When people are freed on what is termed “technicalities” it can be something like that. But, of course, “technicalities” aren’t allowed if it’s someone railroaded into jail in the War on (Some) Drugs because they are poor or minority. I don’t think it’s possible for the prosecution to add more evidence after the prosecution has rested it’s case. At appelate & higher courts all that can be argued is from the trial record.

    But there’s all sorts of double standards in the “justice” system. And this case is one of several proofs.