"Rape by fraud" bill in New Jersey: Bad for legitimate sexual assault legislation.

The “Rape by Fraud” Bill That Would Make It Illegal to Lie Your Way Into Someone’s Pants

The “Rape by Fraud” Bill That Would Make It Illegal to Lie Your Way Into Someone’s Pants

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Nov. 25 2014 1:39 PM

The Drastic Overreach of the “Rape by Fraud” Bill  

He's also a multimillionaire human rights lawyer.

Photo by LoloStock/Shutterstock

Here is some legitimate overreach when it comes to prosecuting sexual abuse: New Jersey state Assemblyman Troy Singleton has drafted a "rape by fraud" bill that would make it illegal to lie your way into someone's pants. From NJ.com:

Earlier this month, state Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) introduced the bill (A3908), which would create the crime of “sexual assault by fraud,” which it defines as “an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or has represented he is someone he is not.”

The bill was inspired by the case of Mischele Lewis, who lost $5,000 to William Allen Jordan, a man she was dating who pretended to be a British military official in order to squeeze money and sex out of her. Jordan was convicted of fraud, but attempts to charge him with sexual assault failed since lying to people to get them into bed isn't actually illegal. Singleton hopes to change that with this bill. 

While Jordan sounds like a first-class scumbag, this kind of legal overreach is a very bad idea. For one thing, Jordan did get convicted of a crime, suggesting that the legal response to men like him is already adequate. But more importantly, this law is so vague and wide-reaching that it's easy to see how pretty much everyone could be considered a rapist, because, as any quick perusing of OkCupid can tell you, representing yourself as someone you are not is a universal behavior. All of us are claiming we woke up like this, and we are all lying. 

Given that this law has very little chance of passing, it shouldn't matter much. But it does! Because it gives those who oppose any legislation attempting to address sexual abuse (affirmative consent laws, for instance) the ability to point and say: Look, those crazies think everything is rape, even fibbing!

Rape is a fairly straightforward crime. It's a matter of having sex with someone who does not want to have sex at that moment in time. Despite claims to the contrary, affirmative consent supporters don't actually want to make it legal to retroactively retract consent. But this law would open the door to allowing people to do so, which actually does muddy the definition and understanding of rape. Jerks who exploit people's desire to be loved in order to defraud them can be convicted under other laws. Otherwise, relationship fouls are simply not criminal offenses.