By a 4-3 vote, the Connecticut State Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Richard Fourtin Jr. (pictured), who was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unidentified woman who has severe cerebral palsy, the intellect of a 3-year-old and cannot verbally communicate.
Despite evidence that the 26-year-old handicapped woman cannot speak and has little body movement, the court ruled that there was no evidence she could not communicate refusal to have sex with Fourtin Jr., reports NBC Connecticut.
Fourtin Jr. was convicted in 2008 of attempted sexual assault and sentenced to six years in prison. His defense lawyers claimed there was evidence that the severely disabled woman could communicate by biting, kicking, screaming and gesturing.
Anna Doroghazi, director of public policy and communication at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services said in a statement: "We are incredibly disappointed with the State Supreme Court’s decision in the Fourtin case. The court’s interpretation of what it means to be ‘physically helpless’ jeopardizes the safety of people with disabilities."
"By implying that the victim in this case should have bitten or kicked her assailant, this ruling effectively holds people with disabilities to a higher standard than the rest of the population when it comes to proving lack of consent in sexual assault cases. Failing to bite an assailant is not the same thing as consenting to sexual activity."