June 17, 2009

The Sexsomnia Rape Case

Have you heard about the famous sexsomnia case in Toronto? The accused rapist of a Toronto-area woman has been acquitted of sexual assault after claiming sexsomnia as a defense. The man didn't claim he didn't rape the woman, but that he can't be held responsible, because he was asleep. Indeed, in the Canadian criminal justice system, this isn't the weirdest defense I've ever heard. A man who drove to his in-laws house in the middle of the night and killed them once got off by claiming he did all that in his sleep. If he can prove automatism, it's a decent defense. Obviously, the sexsomnia rapist must be forced to get help, but I agree wholeheartedly that he shouldn't go to jail.

It's a controversial topic. Not everyone agrees with me on this. Read the Globe's article here. I come at this from a very personal place. Having once dating someone with sexsomnia disorder, I can promise that it is real and that it is not only scary for someone sleeping beside the disordered sleeper, but for the disordered sleeper him/herself. In the morning, these people genuinely have no recollection of what they've done and they are almost impossible to rouse from sleeping while doing it. It's like sleep-walking, except people don't necessarily do something illegal while sleep-walking, whereas having sex with someone who hasn't consented is always rape.

No comments: