Rape by deception

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Rape by deception is a crime in which the perpetrator has the victim's agreement and compliance, but gains it through deception or fraudulent statements or actions.

Notable cases[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

In English law, the basis for such claims is "very narrow", as ruled by the Court of Appeal in R v Linekar [1995] 3 All ER 69 73. Past cases where deceit has negated consent and rape has been ruled, include R v Assange and R(F) v DPP (the sexual act was performed in a way that broke a condition agreed previously), and R - v - McNally (deceit as to gender).[1] The Sexual Offences Act 1956 contained a ground of "procuring intercourse by false pretences" but this was abolished in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.[citation needed]

Two notable cases where this issue arose:

  • In November 2015, British Judge Roger Dutton sentenced a 25-year-old woman, Gayle Newland, to eight years in prison for pretending to be a man as a means having sex with an unnamed woman of the same age. Newland had made her female victim believe that she was a man by means of deception and used the deception in order to have sex with her on more than 10 occasions. Newland's victim was shocked to discover that her "boyfriend" was in reality female, and testified in Chester Crown Court to a jury that she would have preferred to have been raped by a man.[2][3][4]
  • The 2011 UK undercover policing relationships scandal in which police officers obtained sex by deceiving as to their identity, as part of their duties. Crown Prosecutors declined to prosecute on the basis that legally, the actions would not constitute rape as consent to the act itself was informed and the grounds for rape by deceit as to identity was extremely limited.[1][5]

United States[edit]

In 2008, it was reported that a Massachusetts woman, Marissa Lee-Fuentes, unknowingly had sex with her boyfriend's brother in the dark basement that she was sleeping in. He could not be prosecuted because Massachusetts law requires that rape include the use of force.[6][7] Massachusetts State House Representative Peter Koutoujian crafted rape-by-fraud legislation in response,[8] but it did not pass because legislators found the law to be too broad.

In Norwalk, California, on February 20, 2009, Julio Morales snuck into a sleeping 18-year-old woman's darkened bedroom after he saw her boyfriend leave. The woman said she awoke to the sensation of someone having sex with her and assumed it was her boyfriend. When a ray of light hit Morales's face, and the woman saw he was not her boyfriend, she fought back and Morales fled. The woman called her boyfriend, who then called the police. Julio Morales was convicted of rape under two concepts. He was guilty of rape because he began having sex with the woman while she was still asleep and, therefore, unable to consent. He was also guilty of rape-by-fraud because he had impersonated the woman's boyfriend in order to gain her consent. However, an appellate court ruled that the lower court had misread the 1872 law criminalizing rape-by-fraud. The law stated a man is guilty of rape-by-fraud if he impersonates a woman's husband in order to get her consent. The woman in this case was not married, and Morales had impersonated her boyfriend, not her husband. Because of this one technicality, the appellate court overturned Julio Morales's rape-by-trickery conviction in People vs. Morales in 2013. To close this loophole in California's rape-by-fraud law, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) – who tried to introduce a similar bill in 2011 – introduced Assembly Bill 65 and Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) introduced Senate Bill 59. The two bills quickly passed both houses without one dissenting vote, and were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 9, 2013. Morales was later re-tried on the basis that the woman was asleep and re-convicted to three years in a state prison, which he had already served.[9]


A legal precedent in Israel classifying sex by deception as rape was set by the Supreme Court in a 2008 conviction of a man who posed as a government official and persuaded women to have sex with him by promising them state benefits.[10][11] Another man, Eran Ben-Avraham, was convicted of fraud after having told a woman he was a neurosurgeon before she had sex with him.[11]

In 2010, a conviction of rape by deception drew international attention when it was first reported that a man deceived a woman into consensual sex within ten minutes of their first meeting by, according to the amended indictment, lying about being Jewish, unmarried, and interested in a long-term relationship.[12] (In later interviews, the man later denied the allegations that he lied, but such denials were not mentioned in his plea bargain.[13][14]) However, it was later reported that the charge had actually been the result of a plea bargain with the defendant in what had originally been a rape-by-force case where the records were sealed by the judge to protect the identity of the victim and avoid the cross-examination of her. (The sex was consensual according to one of the judges.[15][16]) The man was represented by the public defender's office, and the woman by the prosecution. Sabbar Kashur, an Israeli Arab Muslim resident of Jerusalem who was married with two children, accepted a plea bargain and an 18-month sentence on the reduced charge of rape by deception in 2010 after a period of incarceration and house arrest. Details later declassified showed that the initial charge was of violent rape, but the prosecution agreed to the reduced charge of rape by deception because of the victim's confused account and concern at facing another court appearance. They also indicated that the woman was emotionally disturbed and had a history of sexual abuse.[13][16] The court sent the victim to a mental hospital for treatment and convicted Kashur on the lesser charge.[15] Prosecutors agreed to the plea bargain in order to spare the woman a long cross-examination that might undermine her evidence.[16] The public defender appealed the sentence to the Supreme Court, which postponed the sentence pending the appeal and freed Kashur from house arrest.[13] In 2012 the sentence was cut to 9 months by the Supreme Court.[14]


  1. ^ a b CPS statement on decision not to charge police officers
  2. ^ Stephanie Linning (8 September 2015). "I'd rather have been raped by a man, says woman 'sexually assaulted by female friend who used bandages and a sex toy to pretend she was male'". Daily Mail. London. 
  3. ^ "Woman who posed as man jailed for sex assaults". BBC News. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  4. ^ "Woman who posed as man guilty of sexual assault". BBC News. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  5. ^ http://www.rjerrard.co.uk/law/cases/linekar.htm - legal analysis of when deceit can cause a case to be chargeable as rape, in English law
  6. ^ "Rape 'by Deception' May Become A Crime In Massachusetts". CBS News. 2008-02-29. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "If Your Neighbor Poses as Your Husband, Is it Rape?". NPR. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  8. ^ McCartney, Ryan (27 July 2010). "Could a pick-up artist be charged with 'rape by deception'?". NBC News. 
  9. ^ Robert J. Lopez (May 8, 2014). "Man gets prison in rape impersonation case that sparked new state law". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  10. ^ Heller, Jeffrey (22 July 2010). Jon Loades-Carter, ed. "Israel jails Arab in 'sex through fraud' case". Reuters. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  11. ^ a b "Jurists say Arab's rape conviction sets dangerous precedent". haaretz.com. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  12. ^ "Arab man who posed as Jew to seduce woman convicted of rape". haaretz.com. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  13. ^ a b c Lital Grossman, From rape to racism: How and why did charges change against Arab man?, September 17, 2010
  14. ^ a b Paraszczuk, Joanna (January 27, 2012). "Court cuts Arab-Israeli rape-by-deception sentence". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved August 23, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "Arab rape-by-deception charge 'was result of plea bargain'". Rachel Shabi, September 8, 2010, The Guardian.
  16. ^ a b c "Unravelling the Israeli Arab 'rape by deception' case". Dina Newman, September 17, 2010, BBC.