Lovefraud recently received an email from a woman in Israel. She says that she was involved with a man for almost two years, and had sexual relations with him. He promised that they would marry and have children. The guy seemed to have a wife, but he claimed it was a fake marriage to get a passport. Well, he was, in fact, married and leading a double life—a con man. The woman is trying to get him prosecuted for “rape by deception.”
Yes, Israeli law includes the concept that consensual sex based on a false premise is rape. Here’s the actual law:
345. (a) If a person had intercourse with a woman –
- (1) without her freely given consent;
- (2) with the woman’s consent, which was obtained by deceit in respect of the identity of the person or the nature of the act;
- (3) when the woman is a minor below age 14, even with her consent;
- (4) by exploiting the woman’s state of unconsciousness or other condition that prevents her from giving her free consent;
- (5) by exploiting the fact that she is mentally ill or deficient, if – because of her illness or mental deficiency – her consent to intercourse did not constitute free consent.
then he committed rape and is liable to sixteen years imprisonment.
When I first heard of this law, I was amazed. A law like this actually exists? What a great idea! How many of us have been lured into sex through deception? My sociopathic ex-husband told me that he was a financially stable entrepreneur, a decorated war veteran and in love with me—none of which was true. I would be thrilled to have him prosecuted for his outrageous lies.
Only a few people have been prosecuted under the “rape by deception” provision in Israel. One case from last year was the subject of a lot of media hype. It turned out to be a very bad case, unlikely to gather support for a law that many of us would probably like to see enacted here.
A man by the name of Saber Kushour was convicted of rape by deception because he led a Jewish woman to believe that he was a Jewish bachelor, and they had consensual sex. In fact he was a married Palestinian with two children. The woman filed a complaint.
Here is what Tzvi Segal, one of three judges in the case, said:
“The court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price – the sanctity of their bodies and souls. When the very basis of trust between human beings drops, especially when the matters at hand are so intimate, sensitive and fateful, the court is required to stand firmly at the side of the victims – actual and potential – to protect their wellbeing. Otherwise, they will be used, manipulated and misled, while paying only a tolerable and symbolic price.”
You can read about the story, and the verdict, in Arab guilty of rape after consensual sex with Jew on Guardian.co.uk.
As you would think by the above headline, the story touched off international criticism that the Israeli court was racist, and the law was a ploy to inhibit interracial dating.
Once details of the case were known, it got even messier. Apparently the woman, who was not named, approached Kushour as he walked out of a convenience store. Within 10 or 15 minutes of meeting, the two went to a nearby building and had sex.
The woman told police that she had been abused by her father since she was young and forced by him to become a sex worker. She also said that the sex wasn’t consensual; she was raped and left naked and bleeding.
Then it turned out that she had filed 14 previous rape complaints. The prosecution agreed to a plea bargain, reducing the sentence to “rape by deception,” supposedly to prevent a long cross-examination of the victim. My guess is that the prosecutors decided the woman wasn’t credible, and if they took the case to trial, they would lose. The prosecution took what it could get. But Kushour thought the sentence was too long—18 months— and he is appealing his conviction. Read:
Saber Kushour: ‘My conviction for “rape by deception” has ruined my life’, on Guardian.co.uk.
Arab rape-by-deception charge ‘was result of plea bargain’, on Guardian.co.uk.
Possible in the U.S.?
So, could there be such a law in the United States? Actually, a few states have similar laws—California, Tennessee, Alabama and Michigan. They’re called “rape by fraud” or “rape by coercion” laws.
Back in 1995, Nashville, Tennessee was all a-twitter about the case of the “Fantasy Man.” Raymond Mitchell III, a 45-year-old businessman, took to calling women late at night. In a sexy whisper, he persuaded them to unlock their doors, undress, put on a blindfold, and wait for him in bed. At least eight women thought he was their boyfriend and had sex with him.
Mitchell turned out to be a man with a double life. By day he was a churchgoer who spent time with his ailing mother and helped raise a fatherless nephew. By night he was the Fantasy Man. Mitchell was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for rape by fraud and attempted rape by fraud. Read:
Three accuse ‘Fantasy Man’ lover of rape on LATimes.com
Rape by fraud guilty verdict on NYDailyNews.com.
‘Fantasy Man’ going to prison on News.Google.com.
In a similar case in Massachusetts, the perp was not convicted. A woman lived with her boyfriend in the basement of his father’s home. Her boyfriend’s brother also lived in the house. One night, while the woman slept and her boyfriend was at work, a man came into the room. It was dark, the woman thought her boyfriend had come home, they had sex—but it was the brother.
The brother was prosecuted for rape. But because Massachusetts law specifies that rape requires force, and the sex was consensual, the state supreme court ruled that no rape had been committed.
Read Does sex through fraud constitute rape? On Salon.com.
I have a feeling that we’re not going to see many rape by deception laws. Even if the laws were enacted, they wouldn’t be enforced. I mean, most prosecutors won’t go after people who commit bigamy, so they’re unlikely to go after people who are slick enough to talk themselves into other people’s pants.