Canada’s top court has upheld the sexual assault conviction of Craig Hutchinson, a Nova Scotia man who pierced condoms in an attempt to impregnate his girlfriend. Hutchinson faces up to 18 months in prison, and will have to register as a sex offender.
Court documents show that Hutchinson, 43, had begun piercing condoms in 2006 after his girlfriend had expressed doubts about their relationship. She later became pregnant and he confessed his deceit through text messages.
The seven judges agreed that the appeal should be dismissed, although they arrived at this conclusion differently. Four of the judges said that although the complainant voluntarily agreed to have sex with Hutchison, that consent was “violated” by fraud because the woman had been “deceived” about the condition of the condoms. The remaining three said that the consent never existed, because the complainant only agreed to have sex with an intact condom. What they all agree on is that there was no consent. And that means it’s sexual assault.
From the judgment:
The question you have to ask yourself is “Why, oh why, would he DO that?” Well, he thought it would save his failing relationship. How on earth he thought a deception that deep would repair a broken relationship is beyond me, but that’s what he thought. To surreptitiously attempt to take away someone’s choice not to become a parent is unforgivable, and to think that this might repair a relationship is completely irrational. Heartbroken people sometimes get irrational, but that does not forgive it.
Something like this may well be a rarity, but at least we know that when such a deception is discovered, the law of the land will protect the injured party. There is, of course, one thing that concerns me. As my father used to tell me as he taught me to play golf, “for a rule to be fair, it has to be applied equally”. Will this decision be applied equally?
I know, we’ve heard it for decades, “Why would a woman do that?” Well, it might be rare, but it still counts, right?
For example, one might think it could repair a failing relationship, or turn a dead-end relationship into a marriage proposal. It’s pretty foolish, and deceptive, but it made sense to Mr. Hutchinson, right? And let’s face it, girls have a lot more options when it comes to birth control. Women, quite frankly, have more opportunity to be deceptive about pregnancy… it is, of course, the rare person who would do such a thing, but rarity doesn’t make it okay, does it?
It still counts.
Maybe it’s for money? I can hear the Women’s Studies graduates laughing already, I know, how much money do single moms typically get… I know, I’ve heard it before. But you know what – not everyone had their degree financed by mom and dad; some people actually have lower standards than you. Not common, I know, but rarity doesn’t matter, remember.
It still counts.
Or maybe she’s married or in a stable relationship, she wants kids and he doesn’t? Chances are, he’s not going to have her charged, but she knows what territory she’s entering. Or how about the even more common 3rd child? Journalist Leah hardy writes a fair bit on this phenomenon:
“As I say, this is pretty taboo stuff. But one woman who is happy to voice her belief that men really shouldn’t have too much say in the matter is mother-of-four Jerry Hall. In her role as agony aunt, she unrepentantly told a woman who longed for a third child in the face of her husband’s opposition: ‘Honey, remember, the more you make love, the more chance there is of a happy accident… Chances are he will get used to it. If not, having a baby later in life is an especially good idea: you will get alimony pretty much until your pension kicks in.”
It still amounts to the same thing, a violation as to how the sexual encounter is to take place. It is removing someone’s choice to become a parent through deception. It’s fraud, and it removes consent. You can say it doesn’t happen all that often all you want, it doesn’t matter how often it happens.
It still counts.
“While the Crown did not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the complainant’s pregnancy was the result of the damaged condoms, Mr. Hutchinson exposed her to an increased risk of becoming pregnant by using a faulty condom.” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote in the majority decision. “This suited sufficient deprivation for fraud.”
It strikes me as pretty straightforward. But only time will tell if this ruling will be applied equally.