Defendant admitted that on the night before her wedding he approached the victim as she slept on the living room floor, “removed her pants, fondled her buttocks, and had sexual intercourse with her.” He also admitted that it was the first time he had met her and that she did not consent to any sexual contact or intercourse. Victim claims she was awake right before it happened but simply laid there because defendant outweighed her by 100 pounds. She did not resist in any way and says she froze in panic. Expert testimony held that some victims of rape do freeze in what’s called “frozen fright.” Defendant argued that the element of force was absent from the rape, however.
Defendant convicted at trial, reversed on appeal. Course of appeals found that the element of force or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury was absent. As to fear the court stated, “While the defendant was admittedly much larger than the small victim, he did nothing to suggest that he intended to injure her.” His charge instead was reduced to sexual battery.
Whether sexual intercourse can be accomplished against another person’s will where lack of consent is undisputed and force is non-present.
Resistance to the rape is not required, nor is the threat of immediate bodily harm to be accompanied by an apparent power to inflict the harm. To convict there must be force, fear, and nonconsent. “Resistance is no long the touchstone of the element of force … the court still looks to the circumstances of the case, including the presence of verbal or nonverbal threats, or the kind of force that might reasonably induce fear in the mind of the victim, to ascertain sufficiency of the evidence of a conviction.”
Yes. Fear has two components: One subjective and the other objective. The subjective components “asks whether a victim genuinely entertained a fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury sufficient to induce her to submit to sexual intercourse against her will.” Objective component: “asks whether the victim’s fear was reasonably under the circumstances, and if unreasonable, whether the perpetrator knew of the victim’s subjective fear and took advantage of it.”
The evidence that the intercourse with Mercy was against her will by way of fear of “immediate and unlawful bodily injury” is sufficient to convict. Subjectively, there is evidence that Mercy did, in fact fear immediate and unlawful bodily injury. Her friends testified after the rape that she was genuinely distraught and that she froze during intercourse out of fear. Subjectively, her fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury was reasonable. The fact that he weighed twice as much as her and approached her in her sleep while he was naked is enough to induce fear in a reasonable person.