SHE’S THE LAW: Is Sexual Assault Within Marriage A Crime Or Just A ‘Dispute?’

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domestic-abuseDavid Wise, an Indiana resident, allegedly drugged and raped his wife, Mandy Boardman, repeatedly over the course of three years of their marriage. To make matters worse, Mr. Wise recorded these assaults on his phone, which his wife later discovered. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, once Boardman discovered the heinous acts on her husband’s phone, Mr. Wise admitted to the assaults, and stated to her via email, “I was taking advantage of you in your sleep and you kept coming to me and telling me it was NOT ok.”

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After reporting the acts to the sex crimes office of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and Mr. Wise officially being charged, he was convicted of six felony charges related to the sexual assaults, but will not spend one day in prison because the county judge, Kurt Eisgruber, suspended 12 years of his 20-year sentence and decided that 8 years of home confinement was enough time to serve for the acts committed.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Boardman spoke out against the crime and the sentence:

To have my rapist, my attacker, convicted on all six counts, only to be let go – only for him to walk out that door the same time I could — was just unfathomable. I never thought that he would be at home, being able to have the same rights and privileges as I do.

Somebody who premeditates what he’s doing to me, over and over again, for three-plus years, in my own home, in my own bed, by somebody I trusted fully, 100%, deserves to spend a great deal of their life in prison to pay for it. What he did was wrong, and it was proven that it was wrong, and there was no consequence.”

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

According to RAINN, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, marital rape is a serious form of violence that has been illegal in every state and the District of Columbia since 1993, though it is not frequently prosecuted. It occurs when a spouse forces you to take part in certain sex acts without your consent, and is both an emotional and physical traumatizing act which is considered a form of intimate partner violence (i.e. – an abuse of power by which once spouse attempted to establish dominance and control over the other). While every state has its own laws on the subject, broadly defined, marital rape includes “any unwanted intercourse or penetration (vaginal, anal, or oral) obtained by force, threat of force, or when the wife is unable to consent.”

Many states started criminalizing marital rape in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but it was not until 1993 that it became illegal in every state. States took three approaches to criminalizing marital rape as such:

  • Some states simply abolished the marital rape exemption by striking it from the books. (To illustrate: if the code defined rape as “sexual intercourse with a woman, not your wife, by force and against her will,” the legislature could strike the phrase “not your wife,” thereby abolishing the marital rape exemption). Under this approach, which most states followed, marital rape is treated the same as other forms of rape.
  • Some states explicitly eliminated marriage as a defense to the charge of rape.
  • Some states retained their marital rape exemption in the code, and enacted an additional provision creating a separate offense of marital rape (sometimes with lesser penalties than for other forms of rape).

Though these laws are in place, marital rape is still very much prevalent today as many of the crimes go unreported due to it being regarded as a less serious crime than an assault by a complete stranger.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU?

Even if you are married, you do not, and should not, have to be subjected to sexual act(s) without your consent. It is against the law, and your spouse can be convicted of a crime for doing so.

If you have experienced rape by your spouse, you have the right to make a police report. Sexual assault within a marriage IS a crime and should not go unreported. Seek assistance from both your local police department and also contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE for help at any hour of the day. You can also visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline. for additional information and tips to handle marital rape if you are a victim.

 

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates (www.jmaplesandassociates.com). She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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