If ‘Rape By Fraud’ Was A Law We’d Have To Face Up To A Lot Of White Lies

It’s an ethical minefield…


by Sophie Wilkinson |
Published on

In New Jersey, USA, a lawmaker is trying to push through a ‘rape by fraud’ bill that would make it illegal to get laid via lies. According to NJ.com, Troy Singleton wants to bring in the bill (called A3908, that’s sexy!) to create the crime of ‘sexual assault by fraud’, which would be defined by ‘an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or had represented someone he is not.’

So, in lay terms, if someone sleeps with you under the guise of it meaning you’re now going out, or tells you they’re say, a doctor, in a bid to get you to sleep with them, then the subsequent sex could be classed as rape.

The idea for this law? The case of Mischele Lewis, who lost $5,000 to a guy called William Allen Jordan, who pretended to be a British military official in a bid to get money and sex out of her.

He was convicted for fraud, but managed to wriggle out of Mischele’s attempt to charge him with sexual assault, because, of course, lying your way into someone’s bed is not a crime.

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Now, in some respects we don’t want to read stories like the above; it’s not right that scumbags lie about themselves to get stuff out of people. One could argue that, on the other hand, it’s not really fair that Mischele was only willing to sleep with Jordan if he was a British military official. Surely sex and consent shouldn’t be predicated on someone’s career? However, scratch all of these arguments, because Jordan was a fraudster. The fact he conned her out of $5,000 is enough to make these arguments a moot point.

What’s worth realising, though, is that this law is open enough to be taken advantage of. In the UK, a similar law has caused quite a bit of controversy; trans people have to disclose their trans status before they have sex with someone, otherwise that person can accuse them of sexual assault or rape. This was made a law in 2013 because of a case where a female-to-male transman gave a girl oral sex, which she successfully prosecuted on the basis that she only consented to sex with the transman under the assumption he wasn't trans. It's pretty tricky to navigate.

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But not all cases of pre-sex white lies are as complicated as this. We all tell little white lies just to make things a bit easier. And sometimes it's easy to tell them before we sleep with someone in order to charm them. It’s not great that we do it, but we do it, and getting in trouble for it could lead us down a weird path. Could you be convicted of rape because you lied to someone about your degree? What about the woman who says she ‘just happened to get a bikini wax the other day and oh isn’t it lucky that we’re about to have sex right now?’ How about the guy who pretended to be less interested in us so he could, by way of reverse psychology, entice us into sleeping with him? What about the times that we (the figurative ‘we’) have brushed over any mention of the fact we slept with someone’s mates in order to bed them? Should we be punished for telling someone we’ve got a free house tonight?

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Of course, we feel badly for Mischele and anyone else who has been victim of a co-ordinated conman’s (or woman’s) attempts to nab things from them. But we’re really not sure this sort of law can be taken on easily. Because, we’re afraid to say, even though the dating game is a whole load of bullshit, it does rub off a lot. That said, if you have to feign a whole identity to forge your way into someone’s pants, they’re probably not worth sleeping with. Oh, and you’re probably not worth them sleeping with either.

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Why Sexual Pre-Consent Is Surely Never A Good Idea

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Picture: Eylul Aslan

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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