Governor Malloy to sign sexual assault bill

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May 28, 2013

Connecticut

By Justin Haas

HARTFORD, Connecticut: Governor Dannel Malloy is expected to sign a bill into law which would eliminate what many consider to be a loophole that makes prosecuting certain sexual assault cases nearly impossible.[1]

The bill would expand the definition of "physically helpless" in cases of sexual assault. State law currently defines physically helpless as being unconscious or physically unable to communicate unwillingness. The bill would expand the definition to include any person who is "physically unable to resist an act of sexual intercourse or sexual contact."[1]

The bill was inspired by the case of Richard Fourtin, a man whose conviction was overturned based on the current definition of "physically helpless." Fourtin was initially convicted by a jury of fourth-degree sexual assault under the statute that covers sexual contact with a person who is physically helpless.[1]

The victim in the case was a 25-year-old woman with cerebral palsy and mental retardation who could not walk or talk. She communicated the assault by gesturing and pointing to letters to spell words. However, an appellate court overturned the conviction based on the fact that the woman did not meet the definition of "physically helpless," due to the fact that she could express unwillingness by biting, kicking, or screaming. The ruling was later upheld by the Connecticut Supreme Court.[1]

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