Derrick Rose Trial Raises Issue of Consent In Sex Cases

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No one disputes that New York Knicks player Derrick Rose and his friends had sex with an ex-girlfriend in her apartment in 2013. The question in a $21 million civil case on trial in Los Angeles is whether she gave her consent — as the men claim — or whether she was too incapacitated to do so — as she insists, the Associated Press reports. There is no commonly accepted definition for consent, which is at the heart of a “patchwork quilt” of evolving laws on rape and sexual assault that in some cases require an affirmative agreement before sex, said Rebecca O’Connor of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. “It is murky, and I think that’s where we’re seeing a lot states try to clear the weeds, if you will, and take this on and make it clear. “It’s so complicated we can never just say it’s black and white.”

Rape was once defined as intercourse with force against a woman’s will. Reform efforts in some states led to rape being defined more by the non-consent of the victim than a use of force by the perpetrator. States including California have gone further in deciding that consent can be withdrawn during sex and that a victim can be too incapacitated to agree to the act. The topic has been raised in the presidential campaign with the 2005 recording of Republican nominee Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women’s genitalia and several women accusing him of groping them. “People are starting to recognize that even if they didn’t fit whatever mythological circumstance people think needs to happen in order for it to be rape or sexual assault, that there is in fact that gray area where it’s still nonconsensual,” O’Connor said. “Even if you wore a skirt or you didn’t outwardly force someone off you, this may legally fall into the realm of sexual assault.”

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