You Can Get the Rape Emphatic...
HF goes on to explain how the common-law definition of rape, which the Court of Special Appeals draws upon in its decision, dates back to ancient notions of women being regarded as property and virginity being the most valuable part about them. This is a highly bizarre ruling, one that you would think would not happen in the United States circa 2006, and in a state like Maryland, no less. I'm not a lawyer, so perhaps Bruce Godfrey can shed light on this decision, but either the Special Appeals judges are ridiculously incompetent, or, as HF speculates, are deliberately provoking the Court of Appeals to overturn the ruling and clarify the law. Either way, this is an egregious setback for women's rights.
The case is Baby v. Maryland, __ A.2d ___ (Md.App. 2006). According to the young woman's testimony, the defendant asked to have sex with her and she consented on the condition that he would stop when she told him to. She testified that the penetration hurt "so I said stop and that's when he kept pushing it in and I was pushing his knees to get off me." After she told him to stop, he continued to "keep pushing it in" for about "five or so seconds."
For reasons that I won't get into in this post, the prosecution's theory in this case was that the whole situation was coerced and that her consent was not freely given in the first place. The jury, however, asked this question during their deliberations: "If a female consents to sex initially and during the course of the sex act to which she consented, for whatever reason, she changes her mind and the man continues until climax, does the result constitute rape?"
The trial court declined to answer the question other than to refer the jury back to the original jury instructions, which did not specifically address this concern. The jury convicted the defendant and the defendant appealed. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland held that the trial court erred by failing to answer the jury's question. The court further held that there is no rape under Maryland law if the woman consents to sex prior to penetration and then withdraws the consent after penetration. I should note that this interpretation of the law would apply regardless of whether the man kept thrusting for five seconds or ten minutes after the woman said to stop. (Sorry to be graphic, but it's necessary.)
UPDATE: A TAPPED commenter illustrates the absurdity of the ruling:
Stop.(Originally posted at The Old Line.)