Tomorrow a court hearing will be held in which it is expected New Jersey Superior Court Judge Siobhan Teare, will decide whether or not more testing is needed to determine whether a 33 year old man who suffers from cerebral palsy, was able to give consent during a long lasting sexual relationship with Rutgers Philosophy professor Anna Stubblefeild.
It is said that the man has the mental capacity of an eighteen month old child.
Stubblefield is a practitioner of Facilitated Communication, a highly controversial technique that proponents say enables the severely mentally handicapped to communicate through “facilitators” by the use of touch and assistance with typing on a keyboard. She took on the man as a test subject in 2008 and in May of 2011 she approached the man’s mother telling her she had been engaging in a sexual relationship with him and that they were in love.
In August 2011, the man’s family brought their allegations to university police officers, who contacted Essex County prosecutors in January of 2013. Stubblefield was eventualy indicted on aggravated sexual assault charges.
Rutgers initially was listed as co-defendant in a civil suit filed by the man’s parents, but a judge in may of 2013 and again in January granted requests by Rutgers to be released from the suit.
At issue is whether the man effectively communicated his consent through facilitated communication, according to Stubblefield’s lawyer, James Patton. Communication “facilitated” by Stubblefield herself.
“This man is in his 30s,” Patton said. “The only issue is whether he’s even capable of giving consent and whether that’s what he did.”
Patton claims that he did.
Prosecutors are expected to bring in experts who will testify that facilitated communication is an idea that has repeatedly failed to stand up to the rigors of scientific research.
Stubblefield has been a well published advocate for Facilitated Communication and also taught classes on gender issues at Rutgers. She has been suspended without pay.