Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Consenting to Sex and Severe Mental Illness: Terra Incognita and a Priest with AIDS

Abstract

This article builds upon a civil lawsuit (that settled in mediation with an award to the plaintiff) involving a long-term sexual relationship between a schizophrenic man and a priest with AIDS. The fundamental question was whether it was a consensual relationship between two adult men? Though hardly prototypical, this case nonetheless provides an illustration of the complications underlying the conveyance of consent to sex. Multiple critical issues emerged (competency, communication, fraud, position of authority, and blanket consent, etc.,), all largely anticipated by the concept of transformative consent to sexual relations. Names and identifying information have been disguised or eliminated; the underlying factual details however remain intact.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. 1.

    Wertheimer, A.: Consent to Sexual Relations. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2003)

  2. 2.

    Abramson, P.R.: Romance in the Ivory Tower: The Rights and Liberty of Conscience. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (2007)

  3. 3.

    Abramson, P.R., Parker, T., Weisberg, S.: Sexual expression of mentally retarded people: educational and legal implication. Am. J. Ment. Retard. 93, 328–334 (1988)

  4. 4.

    Abramson, P.R., Pinkerton, S.D., Huppin, M.: Sexual Rights in America: The Ninth Amendment and the Pursuit of Happiness. NYU Press, New York (2003)

  5. 5.

    Nevins-Saunders, E.: Incomprehensible crimes: defendants with mental retardation charged with statutory rape. N Y Univ. Law Rev. 85, 1067–1129 (2010)

  6. 6.

    Parker, T., Abramson, P.R.: The law hath not been dead: protecting adults with mental retardation from sexual abuse and violation of their sexual freedom. Ment. Retard. 33, 257–264 (1995)

  7. 7.

    Perlin, M.L.: All his sexless patients: Persons with mental disabilities and the competence to have sex. New York Law School Legal Studies Research Paper, PDF File 56 (2011)

  8. 8.

    Saks, E.R.: Refusing Care. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (2002)

  9. 9.

    Abramson, P.R.: Sarah: A Sexual Biography. SUNY Press, Albany (1984)

  10. 10.

    Abramson, P.R.: Sex Appeal: Six Ethical Principles for the 21st Century. Oxford University Press, New York (2010)

  11. 11.

    Abramson, P.R., Pinkerton, S.D.: With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality. Oxford University Press, New York (1995)

  12. 12.

    Richelle, L. v.: Roman Catholic Archbishop, 106 Cal. App. 4th 257, 272 (2004)

  13. 13.

    Cal. Pen. Code § 288a(g) (emphasis added)

  14. 14.

    People v. Griffin, 117 Cal. 583, 585 (1897)

  15. 15.

    People v. Thompson, 142 Cal. App. 4th 1426, 1434 (2006)

  16. 16.

    People v. Lewis, 75 Cal. App. 3d 513, 519 (1977)

  17. 17.

    People v. Mobley, 72 Cal. App. 4th 761, 788 (1999)

  18. 18.

    Thompson, 142 Cal. App. 4th at 1437

  19. 19.

    People v. Giardino, 82 Cal. App. 4th 454, 462 (2000)

  20. 20.

    Posner, R.A., Silbaugh, K.: A Guide to America’s Sex Laws. University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1996)

  21. 21.

    Waites, M.: The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship. Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire (2005)

  22. 22.

    Guttman, L. (1950.) The basis for scalogram analysis. In Stouffer et al. Measurement and Prediction. The American Soldier. Volume IV. New York: Wiley

  23. 23.

    http://www.volokh.com. October 7, 2010, 12:52 pm. Israeli Rape by Fraud Cases

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Elyn Saks for her comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

Disclosures

Names and identifying information have been disguised or eliminated; the underlying factual details however remain intact. Terry Gross was the plaintiff’s attorney, Dr. Paul Abramson was the plaintiff’s expert witness, and Annaka Abramson was an intern on the case.

Author information

Correspondence to Paul R. Abramson.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Abramson, P.R., Gross, T. & Abramson, A. Consenting to Sex and Severe Mental Illness: Terra Incognita and a Priest with AIDS. Sex Disabil 30, 357–366 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11195-012-9273-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Consent
  • Informed consent
  • Blanket consent
  • Fraud
  • Transformative consent
  • Severe mental illness
  • United States