Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Incest in Ireland?

Here is another example of a criminal trial that includes a superfluous incest charge and a news report I think is lacking some important information. Either this man assaulted or raped this woman, or he didn't. He was not her caretaker or guardian. That they are related should not criminalize consensual sex. If this was not consensual sex but rather rape, then he should be convicted of rape. Declan Brennan reports for
The jury in the trial of a man accused of raping his 65-year-old mother on Mothers Day has been told they can find him not guilty of rape but guilty of incest.
Consensual incest between adults shouldn't be a crime. It if wasn't consensual, it was rape.

The 45-year-old Dublin man has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to raping the woman at her home between March 2 and 3, 2008.
She's 65, he's 45. So they have long been adults.
During three days of evidence the court heard that the accused admitted having sex with his mother on the evening of Mothers Day but he claimed it was consensual and that one thing had “led to another”.

He said he had gone to her house that evening to borrow money but they had a drink together and began dancing. He claimed she told him she loved him and began kissing him on the mouth.
Looks like he is guilty of asking for money on Mother's Day, to be sure.

The alleged victim said that she couldn’t remember how she ended up on the floor of her living room but that when she realized her son was having sex with her she told him to “leave me alone”.
A person is allowed to change their mind. If she did say "leave me alone" and he continued after that, he's guilty of rape. But how does the court know she really said that? And, if he stopped when she told him too, then he should not be convicted. It is possible she was more tipsy than either of them realized and that she started in with him, and then changed her mind. Here's where more information would have been helpful. Who alerted law enforcement? If it was a third party, the mother would have motivation to claim rape (avoiding prosecution, persecution for consensual incest.) If the mother reported this herself, would she have some motivation, other than having been assaulted, to accuse her son? If not, and if she is generally of sound mind, I would lean towards thinking the man is guilty of rape because why should she contact the authorities to accuse her own son?
Mr Justice Barry White, in charging the jury, said it could find the accused not guilty if it came to the conclusion that an act of intercourse had taken place, that the woman was not consenting but that he believed she was consenting.

The judge told the jurors that they could also consider a verdict under the Punishment of Incest Act 1908 which provides that any man who has carnal knowledge of a woman who is their mother is guilty of an offence.
I'm not sure how this works. Can I drive off in someone else's expensive sports car if I claim I believed they lent it to me? Somehow, I think the authorities in Ireland or anywhere else would still have me on the hook for grand theft.

No matter what, something terrible has happened. Either a woman has been raped or a man is being falsely accused of rape, and he may get convicted by a law that should not longer exist.
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