Nov 14 2009

Raper’s Delight, Part 3

Remember back in December of 2005, when Canadian rapist Jan Luedecke got a free pass because his lawyers had successfully argued that their client’s “sexsomnia” is a legitimate medical disorder that renders the “sufferer” incapable of refraining from assaulting women in his sleep?

Nothing, it will not surprise you to learn, has changed over the past four years.

A review board convening this week to consider Luedecke’s future has declared that he should run free, free, free to float on the ocean breeze, because he has apparently not sexsomnulated anyone but his official partner in 6 years.

That they know of. I don’t suppose that old Jan Luedecke would exactly pipe up about it if he had fallen off the ex-rapist wagon, and it goes without saying that his subsequent victims would have seen clearly the futility of trying to press charges against the poster boy for institutionalized juridical misogyny.

Naturally, nobody calls this bullshit “rare sleep disorder” what it really is, i.e., drunken blotto rape.

[Via Feministing]


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  1. Shaina

    Thank you for restoring my brain to its default state of “enraged.” It never ceases to amaze me how men are consistently forgiven for their crimes against women, regardless of the severity of their transgressions or their actual endangerment to society (in my recent research for an article, I discovered a website that hailed serial killer Ed Gein – who murdered and mutilated women exclusively – as being history’s “most inspirational killer”). These men usually have a history of domestic abuse/assault, which is apparently not a crime because they are still allowed to roam free on the account of…good lawyers? Or a preface of justification? Who cares, both are equally depressing. IBTP.

  2. agasaya

    He has a sleep disorder that results in his engaging in involuntary sexual intercourse but he retained the presence of mind AND coordination to put on a condom first? This must have been an installment of some tv show about a law firm that always gets its clients ‘off’. In this case, literally AND figuratively.

    This is the reason that courts should find people to be ‘guilty’ of crimes on the basis of insanity instead of ‘innocent’ by reason of insanity. Sure some folks are plain nuts (unlikely in this case). But the ‘guilty’ verdict ensures the burden for guaranteeing the future safety of the public falls back on the legal system, instead of trusting that the perpetrator will regain his/her ‘right mind’ and go tripping merrily off into the sunset without supervision.

    Interestingly, victims remain victims no matter what happens in their heads.

  3. Jill

    “victims remain victims no matter what happens in their heads.”


  4. krismcn

    Are you fucking kidding me? This guy gets stoned and drunk, puts on a condom, rapes a woman, then gets acquitted because he’s overworked, sleep-deprived, and has had “sleep sex” with girlfriends in the past? Now that he has “suffered shame and embarrassment”, hasn’t raped anyone that we know of in the last four years, has gone off his meds, and “sleeps safely” with only his girlfriend around, he’s being essentially released from probation or any form of oversight whatsoever? Have I got that right?? Sweet zombie Jesus. You’d think even the Patriarchy would blush a little bit at that one.

  5. nails

    This is just like when people ask questions like “yeah, but what if they were both drunk?”, as if not intending to rape someone makes them less raped. I never see this type of defense used for drunk driving, damage to a car is seen as an actual consequence much more than rape.

  6. Magdalena

    Not only is this a disgusting case of rape-apologism, but has anyone else been following the story about the 15 year old girl gang raped at her homecoming dance in Richmond, CA? The headlines and news bits that have followed in the wake of this horrible, horrible crime have left me sick (“Rape Seen as Nearly Inevitable,” according to the SF Examiner), as has the fact that the high school students reportedly remain “deeply divided” about whether the victim is at fault.

    Oh, do I blame.

  7. slythwolf

    Oh, only his partner. Of course! I forgot how, when someone enters a relationship, zie automatically consents to any and all sexual activity for the duration of that relationship.

    Oh wait! No zie doesn’t!

  8. No Blood for Hubris

    Hey, you know how guys are. They just can’t help themselves!

  9. PandanCat

    If his partner absolutely can’t live without him, I hope a good, sturdy straitjacket that secures safely to the bedposts is part of their bedroom set.

  10. yttik

    So if someone were to suffer from a sleep disorder that caused them to sneak out in the middle of the night and smother alleged rapists, the patriarchy would be sympathetic to their diminished mental capacity, right? Of course not. Patriarchy is very selective about what behaviors are excusable.

    When we fought to get battered women’s syndrome recognized by the courts, one disturbing aspect was that we had to explain a disorder, a defect, to help people understand why a perfectly normal woman would resort to defending herself, as if female self preservation were some sort of unexplainable mental illness. It was a valid fight, a good thing, but unsettling that it still has to be proven that you suffer from diminished mental capacity in order to provide a legit and legal explanation for why you might fight for your life.

  11. Citizen Jane

    One day, I am going to fire up my computer, take a look at the blogs and find that one illustrious blog post:

    “Today, there was not a story in the news about a woman who got raped and about how the surrounding community leashed a torrent of hate, abuse, and blame on the victim. Not one story where a rapist got off because it wasn’t really his fault that he raped someone. Not one story about how a rapist is the poor, unsuspecting victim of a scheming, vindictive woman who maliciously got herself raped by him. Nope. Not today. There hasn’t been one all day long.”

    Sigh. One day.

  12. kristyn

    yttik wrote:

    ”So if someone were to suffer from a sleep disorder that caused them to sneak out in the middle of the night and smother alleged rapists, the patriarchy would be sympathetic to their diminished mental capacity, right?”

    Naturally, zie concluded this to be false, that somnambulatory rapist-killers would in fact be punished, but it does sounds like an amazing ”sleep disorder”.
    What do you, general, think would happen if many, many of us suddenly -developed- it over the course of the next few months?

    And would it have to be months, or weeks? Too slow of a buildup and no precedent would be set; a poor soul or two would have to languish in prison until the next wave achieved legitimacy for the condition, which then might only be attributed to copy-catting anyway. It might work best if everyone came down with the ”disorder” at the same time. Perhaps it could be blamed on a virus, or mass PTSD. And regardless of outcome, we will have collectively thinned the raping herd at least a little.

    Of course, I’m being a little flippant, especially about attributing rapist-[x]ing to a virus. But in all serious, it does seem as though mass action is needed, and a ”Lysistrata” approach is not going to be enough. When women strike, we need to STRIKE, not just ”go on strike.”

    Boycotting simply doesn’t have the same punch as, ”Yerroner, I swear that I shot off that guy’s nutsack when I was dead asleep, and I’ve got a radfem lawyer who’s willing to help me prove it.”

  13. AileenWuornos

    There was some late night medical “documentary” that was on television here a few years ago about a few more cases of this so called “sex-somnia” and one where the guy raped and tried to strangle his girlfriend in his sleep (?!).

    Methinks one of my rapists ‘suffered’ from this ‘condition’.

    P.S “Apologies” “for all” “the apostrophes” hahah

  14. Emily H.

    “So if someone were to suffer from a sleep disorder that caused them to sneak out in the middle of the night and smother alleged rapists, the patriarchy would be sympathetic to their diminished mental capacity, right?”

    Quite possibly, yes. In 1989 there was a high-profile case that involved a man who sleep-drove 20 miles to his in-laws’ house and murdered them, still in his sleep: http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/news/local/article/24162–man-acquitted-of-sleepwalking-murder-running-for-school-trustee-in-durham. He was acquitted after the court determined that he had in fact been asleep. A person can be found innocent of ANY crime — not “just” rape, but murder, theft, etc. — if it’s determined that they weren’t conscious and therefore had no intention to commit the crime.

    In U.S. law, a person’s intent determines what crime they’re guilty of, or even *if* they’re guilty at all. If your hand performs the action of firing a gun, but you weren’t conscious at the time, no crime has been committed. (That’s why the notion of “transfer of intent” is necessary in law, for instance, if a criminal tries to shoot someone & hits the wrong person accidentally.) No intent, no crime. This is different from the standard rape defense that the rapist’s desire and will were so strong, he couldn’t help himself. Here the defense argued that the man’s will, his ability to take conscious action, simply was not operating at the time.

    It’s my understanding that a sleep disorder like this can be proven in a sleep lab, by studying the sleeper’s brain waves. Many sleepwalkers and sleep eaters perform actions just as complex as this man’s sexsomnia — walking and driving, finding familiar objects, even cooking food on the stove. They can see, they’re just not conscious. Yes, this disorder sounds bizarre. (If you had just heard of sleepwalking for the first time, you’d probably respond “bullshit, they’re awake the whole time, they’re just pretending.”) But courts and juries have to be prepared to hear about strange medical/psychological conditions. I would find it rather flat-earth-y and Bush-administration-like if courts refused to believe in any medical phenomenon that they deemed “weird” or unheard-of.

  15. Jezebella

    The point isn’t that sexsomnia is or is not verifiable by medical science or whatever – the point is that the victim has still been raped, and furthermore, someone who rapes in his sleep needs to be LOCKED THE FUCK UP so he doesn’t do it again, not patted on the head and told it’s not his fault.

  16. Julia

    Here is a case of killsomnia:

  17. Kelsey B.

    @Julia: I just came over here to post about that! Personally, I don’t buy it. Hitting someone in the throes of a nightmare seems plausible, I guess, but strangling someone with your bare hands? I understand that this man had been prone to sleepwalking in the past, but it still seems like a stretch.

  18. Jill

    “The point isn’t that sexsomnia is or is not verifiable by medical science or whatever – the point is that the victim has still been raped […]”

    Another example of the complete irrelevance, from the point of view of the oppressed party. of “intent.”

  19. Amos

    Sexsomnia is just the label for sleepwalkers who also happen to be rapists. Is there a fancy Latin name for brushing your teeth in your sleep?

    I think that intent should be important to the justice system. But sleepwalkers clearly have intentions; they are not all just stumbling around like zombies. Anyway, during REM or LSD, I have seen some strange laws of physics, but I don’t remember it ever changing my sense of morality.

  20. Jill

    1. A person’s “sense of morality” isn’t fixed, like eye color, or part of a person’s fundamental essence, like DNA. It’s actually — and I’m basing this on highly scientific evidence, since as you know this is a science blog — a figment, and a pretty fluid one at that. It morphs hither and yon to suit context, circumstance, fashion, appetite, alcohol consumption, delusion, and peer pressure (e.g. Lynndie England, Nazi collaborators, the 9/11 bombers). This fluidity, I postulate, is because morality as a concept hinges on insubstantial religion fluff: rules of conduct derived from the godbaggy good-vs-evil binary. Many see good and evil as absolutes, but they’re really just arbitrary judgments imposed by theists on an indifferent cosmos, often to facilitate oppression. In fact, a “sense of morality” appears to be nothing more than the degree to which a person has assimilated the social-behavioral customs of her community, and the degree to which she is willing to enforce’em in everybody else.

    2. This isn’t an argument in favor of leniency toward rapesomniacs (if they even exist). I’m saying that a person’s sense of morality is an unreliable indicator of future behavior, since it can be turned on and off at will. What can’t be turned on and off at will is predatory behavior. I say one strike, they’re out; haul those fuckers off in chains.

    3. Sexsomnia sure isn’t Latin!

  21. Julia

    @Kelsey B.: You’re right. It seems an unlikely story, which even makes it all the more outrageous that the only verdicts available to the jury are not guilty of murder due to insanity or simply not guilty. If found insane, the jury should instruct the killsomniac to be admitted to a mental hospital, an event that is unlikely to happen as the psychiatrist for the prosecution(!) claims the husband doesn’t belong in a mental hospital, even though he was temporarily insane at the time he murdered his wife. If the husband isn’t hauled off in chains, women all around the world should draw the appropriate conclusion and stop sleeping with their oppressors.

  22. Sigh

    He has a sleep disorder that results in his engaging in involuntary sexual intercourse but he retained the presence of mind AND coordination to put on a condom first? This must have been an installment of some tv show about a law firm that always gets its clients ‘off’. In this case, literally AND figuratively.

    Hi, Ignorance! I’m Research.

    We can be friends.

    Sleepwalkers are known to do MANY complex behaviors while sleeping. Muscle memory. Your body does things familiar to it. Sleepwalkers have been known to go to the kitchen, get food, and COOK IT.

    While asleep. There have been reports and stories on people who get behind the wheel and attempt to drive while asleep.

    Considering that it takes a lot of fine movements to get your keys, leave the house, unlock the car, put keys in ignition, start car, and attempt to drive it… condoms aren’t too far-fetched.

    If you’re going to scream and yell, at least do so with actual facts to back you up. Otherwise, you look, you know. Ignorant.

  23. Jill

    “Otherwise, you look, you know. Ignorant.”


  24. agasaya

    I quite agree regarding the importance of research. None of the literature I read about this (before commenting)equates it with sleepwalking or highly complex behaviors. In fact, it wasn’t a single disorder and the sufferers appeared to have different expressions of, well, this form of self ‘expression’. Treatable apparently but definitely measurable with REM activity and seizure-like readings in EEGs.

    I don’t recall this very important criteria being mentioned in the news articles which would have been a rather justifying bit of important detail. So, if it is still ongoing with the regular partner, the guy ain’t fixed and shouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere at night without an ankle bracelet/monitor. Or does this happen during daytime naps too?



    While his ‘partner’ may allow it, the violence of the assault described upon someone who wasn’t his partner sounded atypical of the disorder in the small amount of literature on the subject (much of which was accumulated through internet sampling, highly unreliable as an investigatory method of research). Since it remains a ‘disorder’ which has NOT been added formally to the DSM, apparently the shrinks have a problem with decriminalizing it or considering the actual phenomenon as a ‘recipe’ for the behavior of some nocturnal Julia Child.

    Frankly, the implication that someone who rapes in their sleep is less dangerous than someone who can kill in their sleep is more than a bit offensive. Comparison to someone who cooks in their sleep is just, shall we say, wrong? I can’t see even a defense attorney saying, “Get over it; the guy was asleep!”So, unless this guy has a soufflé to show for his talents at the end of the night, I’d like to at least see him under life long medical supervision.

    But I haven’t read the Canadian study written about this particular case. Wasn’t available on the web.

    Nice to meet you research! Too bad we can’t come to similar conclusions at the end of the study session.

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