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Old 22 April 2015, 11:22 PM
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Judge Ex-Iowa lawmaker acquitted of sexually abusing wife who has dementia

A longtime Iowa state lawmaker was acquitted Wednesday of sexually abusing his wife who suffered from dementia, in a case that centered on questions about when a person is no longer mentally capable of consenting to sex.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/henry-ra...-had-dementia/
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Old 23 April 2015, 12:01 AM
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Quote:
Iowa law defines an act as sexual abuse in the third degree if the two parties are not living together as husband and wife and if one person "is suffering from a mental defect or incapacity which precludes giving consent."
Wait, so what he did was only potentially a crime because she was in a nursing home? Someone with equal incapacity who was being taken care of in home wouldn't be protected?
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Old 23 April 2015, 03:42 AM
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That's a good question. Let's hope that it's an either/or thing.
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Old 23 April 2015, 04:48 AM
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That sentence doesn't describe every situation of sexual abuse so there's no reason to assume it means only that particular situation would be considered abuse. It's poorly written in the article but the law (while vague) does protect people in their own homes as well.
https://coolice.legis.iowa.gov/Cool-...Code&input=709
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Old 23 April 2015, 05:02 AM
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It looks like if the couple are cohabiting, the question would be whether she was at the time of the act mentally incapacitated. Once they aren't cohabiting, the question is whether she suffers from a condition that causes mental incapacity. IOW, at home, there's allowance for her to consent while lucid. In a care facility, she can no longer consent, even while lucid.
I definitely have concerns on both sides of the case. Taking away her ability to consent while lucid is troubling. But of course, there should be protection from abuse. It's hard to see where the line should be drawn.
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Old 23 April 2015, 06:57 AM
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Yeah, I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of taking away a person's agency, especially when it means they don't get to be intimate with anyone anymore, ever. I certainly don't want to allow people with diminished capacity to be taken advantage of, but the idea of an institution declaring me incompetent to consent to sex with my husband anymore for the rest of my life is really upsetting.
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Old 23 April 2015, 03:01 PM
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The article I read said she had dementia, so it wasn't the nursing home that made her incapable of consent, it was the dementia.

Although, what do you do if the demented person initiates the sexual contact?

Seaboe
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Old 23 April 2015, 03:11 PM
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I wonder if there is a possibility that a moment of lucidity could end during intimacy -- that could be terrifying for the person with dementia.

I also wonder whether the loss of intimacy/the possibility of intimacy would be as devastating a blow to someone with significant dementia as a person without dementia might expect it to be.
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Old 23 April 2015, 03:27 PM
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Lainie, I'm pretty sure those concerns are exactly why people with dementia are considered incapable of giving consent.

Seaboe
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Old 23 April 2015, 04:21 PM
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I, and I assume Esprise_Me, are talking about the law generally. In this case, the woman had dementia caused by Alzheimer's. It may well be that in her case the moments of lucidity were so few and so brief that hers is a clearer case--we don't really have those details. But in a case where people have, as we often hear about, good days and bad days, if I'm reading the law correctly the person would not be allowed to consent once they were in a care facility.

Unpleasant and upsetting as it might be if the lucidity goes away during sex, it is a risk a lucid person and their partner could choose to take. The partner would have to stop when they became aware, as in a case where a person withdraws consent. But even visiting a person whose lucidity comes and goes can carry the risk of distressing them. I think the individuals involved should get to make the choice.
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Old 23 April 2015, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
I, and I assume Esprise_Me, are talking about the law generally. In this case, the woman had dementia caused by Alzheimer's. It may well be that in her case the moments of lucidity were so few and so brief that hers is a clearer case--we don't really have those details. But in a case where people have, as we often hear about, good days and bad days, if I'm reading the law correctly the person would not be allowed to consent once they were in a care facility.
I'm not clear on what distinction you're making here, or why her having Alzheimer's rather than some other type of dementia is relevant. Dementia caused by Alzheimer's isn't inherently more severe than any other form of dementia, and a patient with any type of dementia, including Alzheimer's, may have good days and bad days.

ETA: So can people who don't have dementia, but have other debilities caused by old age and related factors. I'm not sure anyone with advanced dementia has really "good" days. Less bad ones, maybe.
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Old 23 April 2015, 05:35 PM
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We don't know her exact condition. Because the dementia caused by Alzheimer's gets gradually more severe, I was acknowledging that she may be at a!point where, regardless of the exact law that applies, it would be right for the nursing home !to inform her husband that she can't consent to sexual contact anymore.

But at earlier points in Alzheimer's and other diseases, a person may have a more variable mental capacity. But the way the law is written, it seems to me that it's saying that once you have a disease that can mentally incapacitate you at times, if you don't live with your spouse you can never consent to sex. The law when you live with your spouse is that you have to not be mentally incapacitated at the time of the act. Those are very different standards.
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Old 23 April 2015, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erwins View Post
Because the dementia caused by Alzheimer's gets gradually more severe, I was acknowledging that she may be at a!point where, regardless of the exact law that applies, it would be right for the nursing home !to inform her husband that she can't consent to sexual contact anymore.
Other forms of dementia get gradually more severe, too, so again I don't see why it matters whether her dementia is caused by Alzheimer's or something else.

Quote:
But the way the law is written, it seems to me that it's saying that once you have a disease that can mentally incapacitate you at times, if you don't live with your spouse you can never consent to sex. The law when you live with your spouse is that you have to not be mentally incapacitated at the time of the act. Those are very different standards.
IANAL, but I didn't interpret it that way. It doesn't say that the law applies as soon as one partner is diagnosed, or has lost any function. My interpretation was that the law begins to apply at the point when one partner is unable to consent (presumably as defined by a qualified medical professional). That could be years after diagnosis or onset of symptoms.

ETA: I really hope I'm right, because it can take years of progression for the dementia to become severe, especially now that medications are available to suppress the symptoms in some patients in the early stages.
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Old 23 April 2015, 06:01 PM
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I'm looking at the actual laws, which ganzfeld linked to. The laws are different when the person lives at home or lives away from his or her spouse.

Forget I mentioned Alzheimer's. I was just using it as an example of a progressive disease that affects mental capacity. I'm posting from my tablet while cooking breakfast and feeding kids, so I may not be expressing myself very well. Things are probably getting put in shorthand that only I understand.
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Old 02 May 2015, 02:53 AM
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I don't remember what started the conversation, but when we were still married, my now ex and I had a conversation about what was and was not okay sexually in the future case of dementia or some other form of incapacitation. It was a sort of Advance Directive for sexuality. I'll spare the details. Of course, without having written proof of her wishes and permission, the conversation did not have any legal weight, but it does raise interesting questions--Can someone even give advance consent for sex or is it only valid if given at the time of the act? How could you undo consent verbally or by action if it was given in writing before? All I can really hope is that I'm never in that situation in the first place. In retrospect, it's creepy to think about by I'm very affectionate and I'd hate for that to end or be taken the wrong way because of a disease.
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