The defense attorney of Rutgers-Newark Philosophy Professor, Anna Stubblefield, who is facing sexual assault charges as a result of having a relationship with a mentally disabled man, was told by a judge that the argument he could give proper consent was not viable.
On Thursday, April 24th, after watching 12 hours of video in which the man was tested for his ability to give consent to sex, New Jersey Superior Court Justice Judge Siobhan Teare told the Stubblefield defense that two decades’ worth of psychological testing have concluded the man is severely mentally disabled and, thus, incapable of giving consent.
Stubblefild is using claim that the man consented as the centerpiece of her defense and is perusing no other strategy.
“Consent is obviously going to be the issue,” said defense attorney James Patton . “His understanding of his right to consent and his right to refuse.”
The Judge reluctantly agreed, over protests from the prosecution, to allow one more round of testing in order to determine the victim’s ability to consent.
“He’s not a lab rat,” Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Eric Plant told the judge. “He was not a lab rat for someone’s sexual proclivities three years ago and he’s not a lab rat now.”
The victim was a subject of Stubblefield who is a practitioner of a highly controversial method of communicating with the mentally handicapped called Facilitated Communication. It’s detractors say it is unscientific and that in most cases it is the facilitator who is the one doing the actual communicating and not the handicapped person.
Stubblefield, a star in the Facilitated Communication community, has collected a group of supporters claiming to champion both Stubblefield’s and the victim’s right to have a sexual relationship.
“This is an important case for the disability rights community, as it highlights the need to protect the rights of people with disabilities to communication, self-determination, loving relationships, and marriage” reads a statement on a Facebook page by Judy Bailey, a supporter of Facilitated Communication and a self proclaimed advocate of the mentally handicapped.