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Connecticut Supreme Court to address issues of consent and abuse

Many state and federal laws have been instituted to safeguard vulnerable members of society like the elderly and the disabled from illegal acts of discrimination and/or other forms of abuse. And while legislation is in place to help ensure that everyone is entitled to the same basic rights in this country, individual cases sometimes expose potential cracks in the larger system. One recent Connecticut lawsuit deals with issues of disability and consent, challenging what constitutes sex offenses when it comes to acts like sadomasochism.

At the heart of this particular case lies the conflict of whether or not an individual can consent to assault, and whether sex acts involving sadomasochism count as forms of abuse. Common law dictates mistreatment can't be consensual, but some argue that such an assumption infringes on peoples' sexual rights.

The already sensitive subject of what constitutes consensual sex is further complicated when the judgment of an adult is questioned. The Connecticut Supreme Court will soon rule over a lawsuit filed by the mother of a deceased disabled woman, claiming that the daughter faced sexual assault by participating in sadomasochism. However, the defendant in the case claims the daughter was in agreement with their physical relationship.

The mother alleges that her daughter's numerous physical and mental disabilities prohibited her from consenting to that type of relationship, and that she did object to the physical abuse. Though, the man counters that the mother has filed several unfounded claims against him in the past and is trying to humiliate him.

Since the daughter's state of mind and actions can't be proved definitively, no one can accurately speculate about her role in the relationship. However, the fact that she was disabled does not automatically disqualify her from being a consenting adult in a physical relationship.

Source: ctpost.com, "case raises concerns on consent to sadomasochism," Dave Collins, March 9, 2013

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