Can’t give consent to sex if intoxicated

Maple Ridge News
Date: 
Thursday, September 23, 2010

A law professor currently researching sexual violence against women says young men need to heed a warning, following the alleged gang-rape of a girl at a rave in Pitt Meadows.

“Unless they have voluntary agreement from someone who is capable of consent, not someone who is intoxicated, then they can’t proceed [with sex],” said Janine Benedet, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia.

“She doesn’t even have to say no, she just has to not say yes.”

According to police, the 16-year-old girl was gang-raped in field by five to seven men – some adults and other teens – at “Another Night in Bangkok,” a party held on a farm at 12993 Harris Road, Sept.10.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested four days later for distributing child porn. He allegedly took photographs of the rape on his cell phone and distributed them to friends, who then posted them to Facebook. Police have filed a report to Crown for charges against him, which have yet to be laid.

An 18-year-old man was also arrested last week for his alleged participating in the sexual assault, but he too has yet to be charged.

Although police are resolute in their statements that the sex was not consensual, many continue to question the incident in public and online.

Benedet said the definition of a sexual assault is very simple.

“It just requires some kind of sexual contact of a psychical nature where there is no consent on the part of the victim,” she explained.

The Criminal Code is also clear and says explicitly: there is no consent where someone is incapable of consent or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Benedet added intoxication cannot be used as a defence by the accused.

As for proving the allegation in court, Benedet believes it’s not as difficult as some people think.

“Sometimes sexual assault cases are portrayed as a he-said she-said. But that’s misleading,” said Benedet, noting there is often both physical evidence and witness statements to place the complaint’s evidence in context.

“Where accused persons are so foolish as to make a photographic or video record of themselves, they make it much, much easier to prosecute what can often be a difficult case.”