Coercion and deception in sexual relations

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Julian Assange has become (in)famous for founding Wikileaks, a website which has published numerous highly-sensitive confidential documents leaked to it by insiders.1 He has also been suspected of raping and sexually molesting two women, charges in respect of which the Swedish authorities sought his extradition from the United Kingdom.2 According to the Swedish warrant, "Assange, who was aware that it was the expressed wish of the injured party [...] that a condom be used, consummated unprotected sexual intercourse with her without her knowledge."3 Assange raises a particularly interesting question of whether a sexual offence is constituted when consent to sexual relations was obtained by deception about the use of protection. When ruling on the extradition request the High Court of Justice discussed this question without limiting the discussion to any specific sexual offence and decided that deception about the use of protection can suffice to vitiate consent and transform Assange's alleged actions into the relevant sexual offence.4 As a result a man who has intercourse with a partner whom he deceived about the use of protection can be convicted of rape, the gravest sexual offence in England.5 Following the same reasoning a woman who deceives her partner about the use of contraceptives could be charged with sexual assault,6 despite her partner's consenting to (protected) intercourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-127
Number of pages31
JournalCanadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


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