Thursday, November 30, 2006

Saying ‘no’ during sex isn’t enough for rape, court says

Saying ‘no’ during sex isn’t enough for rape, court says
Kathleen Cullinan, The Examiner
Nov 1, 2006

BALTIMORE - A teenage woman who agreed to have sex with another teen, but told him to stop before they were finished was not raped under Maryland law if he ignored her request, an appeals court said.

Reversing a Montgomery County man’s rape conviction on the ground that the trial judge improperly responded to a question from the jury, the Court of Special Appeals said Monday that “no rape occurred if the jury found that” the 18-year-old woman in the case “withdrew her prior consent after penetration.”

However, a refusal to stop might constitute assault, the court said.

Activists and several legislators were quick to condemn the ruling, and the state law they said it relied upon.

“If you’re a teenage girl and you [decide] to have sex with your boyfriend, and no sooner than the deed is begun you think, ‘Oh my God, what am I doing? I could get pregnant, I could ruin my life’ — and you scream, ‘Get off me,’ ” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. “This ruling says that he can pin you down and keep going.”

Several years ago in Annapolis, one legislator said, efforts to create a “no means no” standard, under which a partner can withdraw legal consent during sex, failed.

Del. Jean Cryor said at most the current law is ambiguous on that point. She predicted that in the wake of Monday’s ruling, lawmakers would resurrect their efforts to “bolster it, redefine it, sharpen it.”

Maouloud Baby was 16 years old in 2003 when he found himself alone with the woman in the back seat of her car, according to the appeals court’s ruling. She told him they could have sex as long as he stopped when she asked him to, the documents say.

But as they were beginning, the woman told a prosecutor, she asked Baby to stop and he didn’t for several seconds.

An attorney for Baby declined to comment on the ruling, calling it self-explanatory.