Rape By Fraud

The idea of “rape by fraud” (having sex with someone who believes you to be someone else - they’re consenting to sex with the other person, not you) is a topic that’s come up on this board a bit in the past.

I just read a very good in-depth article about it in Buzzfeed, and how it’s actually legal to have sex with someone in this manner in most states.

The case described in the article seems, to me, to be a clear-cut case of rape where the rapist was let off via a legal loophole. The woman was in her boyfriend’s bed, she woke up to find herself being fondled by a man whom she believed to be her boyfriend, she initiated intercourse (with her back to him), it was only later that she realized the man was NOT her boyfriend but his roommate. She reported it to the police, he admitted to having sex with her knowing that she believed him to be her boyfriend. He was acquitted.

Another case they discuss in the story involves a woman who met a man who told her many lies about his life, including that he was single. She got pregnant by this man and had an abortion, at which time he told her the truth, including that he was married. The woman felt extremely violated and feels that what he did was sexual assault. Now, the woman (Joyce Short) is a leading advocate against rape by fraud.

But, is what happened to both of these women the same thing? Short would say yes but many would say no. I think it all comes down to legally defining “consent.”

Anyway, I think many of you will find it an interesting read, since, like I said, it’s been a hot-button topic on the SDMB over the years.

Sounds like 2 different things to me.

Joyce Short was deceived by a scumbag, not raped. She is devaluing the word it seems to me. Her trust was violated. She was apparently played. Not rape, maybe the lawyers of the dope can come up with a criminal offense but I don’t see how it was rape. Maybe some sort of fraud.

The first woman was raped.

1st is rape, 2nd isn’t. Treating the 2nd as rape would put things on a tremendously slippery legal slope.


Care to expand a little on that? I have no clue how to take it. Also it would be interesting to get the perspective of a non-American on this.

I think the article is trying to point out that lawmakers are perhaps letting the case we perceive as a clear cut rape by fraud go, because it’s too complicated to differentiate “fraud” in Abigail’s case from “fraud” in Joyce Short’s case. Legally, that is, I guess.

The article of course is quite lengthy and by no means centers on the differences and similarities of these two cases. It’s an interesting and heartbreaking read all around.

It seems to me that it should not be that difficult to define legally 1) getting sex by impersonation of another existing person, as different from 2) getting sex by lying about the facts of one’s own life. I’m trying to think of edge cases that might cause difficulty but my imagination is coming up short.

I suppose if I told you I was an existing, known billionaire that you had never met and you fell for it, that would be a kind of impersonation that would sound like case #1 but would actually be more like case #2. So some thought would have to be put into defining impersonation, maybe it would have to be impersonation of another existing person who the victim already knows, or something like that.

Anyway, I definitely agree that these two kinds of cases should not be conflated into “rape by fraud.”

Can there be different “degrees” of rape like there are different “degrees” of murder?

Scenario #1. Man breaks into apartment, threatens women with knife, rapes her.
#2. Man drugs women in her apartment, rapes her.
#3. Man hides in women’s boyfriend’s bed, she assumes man is her boyfriend. He has sex with her.
#4. Man lies about how wealthy he is and that he is single. Women has sex with him.

One through three are criminal behavior, but are they all equally heinous? Do all three deserve the same punishment?

#3. Question for women. (Supposing you are sober.) Does your SO consistently hold you (have sex with you) in a certain way so that you would know that the man in bed with you is NOT your SO even though you are not facing him?

I cannot fathom not recognizing a stranger masquerading as my SO. At least not after completing an entire sexual encounter. The sex would be…different.

heres my question on all this … say im at a party im stoned and drunk and doze off in a bedroom of where said parties taking place a girl comes in the same condition but just not wasted enough to give me a go and realize after when shes not so hazy im the wrong person ……

who gets to go oops and who gets to call the cops ?

As much as I’d like to see guy 1 die in a fire, the law has clearly demonstrated that it is incumbent on both parties to identify who you’re having sex with.

I mean, I’ve heard stories about guys hooking up with girls in adults only bars, only to find out later they were underage.

I agree that these laws can be better written.

FWIW in the article it explains that Abigail and her boyfriend had only been dating for a short while and had not had sex yet. That is why she didn’t realize it wasn’t him - she was also half asleep and had been drinking.

I would have thought that the first one would be rape in most juridictions. It is here, at least, called “rape by surprise”.

I can’t see how the second could be considered rape. People lie all the time and how would you decide what lie is significant enough that the person lied to could legitimately feel violated? Say, he didn’t tell you that he’s wearing a wig, and when you discover it in the morning after a one night stand, he’s charged with rape because you’re particularly repulsed by bald men and wouldn’t have slept with him if you had known? You tell your husband that you’ll have sex after he has washed the dishes, and later you discover that he didn’t wash them and bring charges of marital rape? Your lover isn’t nearly as good in bed as he said he was, so rape? If there was such a law, whether or not the culprit could be sentenced would be terribly arbitrary, unless there’s a specific list of “forbidden lies”.

Contrarily to the first case, in the second case, you aren’t misled to assume that a person is someone entirely different. You’re just misled about one specific characteristic of this person. Which might or might not be considered an important one by you or by others. That you, him, or others might or might not think you are entitled to know (say, he tells you that he’s an accountant when in fact he’s a special agent infiltrating a secret alien base in your area).

And in any case, there wasn’t a violation of consent there. The woman did consent to have sex with this man. And after all, she could have put any condition she wanted (producing evidence that he was single, for instance) before consenting. While she in fact consented knowing that he possibly might have lied to her : it’s not like someone lying about his marital status is an extraordinarily rare situation that a reasonable person couldn’t envision. She could legitimately be told that if his marital status was so important to her that she’d would feel violated, then she should have refused to have sex until she had verified it to her satisfaction. Arguably, you could say the same in the first case (no violation of consent) and maybe it’s the reason why it’s not considered rape either in some places?

I think that there used to be laws against unfulfilled promises of marriage, even though I don’t think that whatever you could be charged with was rape, but maybe it was. That’s the closest I can think of to the situation described that has been, at least in the past, ground for criminal charges.