In January, courts in Switzerland found a man guilty of rape for stealthing a woman, but a recent appeals court ruling has lessened his charges to "defilement."
The case took place in Lausanne, Switzerland, and it was a historic one in that it was the first time stealthing (i.e. taking off your condom mid-sex without informing your partner) was likened to rape in the eyes of the law.
While the new ruling still maintains that stealthing is a sexual crime of some sort, it takes us back a few steps by maintaining that it is not the same thing as rape.
In her argument in court earlier this year, Baptiste Viredaz, the prosecution's lawyer argued that "imposing unprotected sex on someone whilst their partner remains unaware is tantamount to rape."
For his defense, Cosmopolitan reports the man charged and found guilty of stealthing (his name still has not been released) argued that the removal of the condom was an accident — it was ripped or "somehow lost."
As you can imagine, cases like this are often hard to prove, especially when the specific intent of another person is involved. Zak Goldstein, a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, told Elite Daily:
I do not think it would be an outrageous argument for a prosecutor to argue that 'stealthing' is sexual assault because it involves engaging in sexual intercourse without consent. The prosecutor would argue that the consent for the sexual intercourse came from the fraud or deception of agreeing to wear a condom even though the perpetrator knew that they would secretly remove it. It could be difficult to prove, however, because the prosecution would have to show that the removal of the condom was intentional and not an accident, and possibly that the complainant would have refused to engage in sexual intercourse without the condom. Sex crimes are difficult to prove in general, and this would be a novel prosecution and certainly no exception to that general rule.
That being said, if your stealther leaves you with an STI or STD, you may have a better shot at proving your case in court. Julie Rendelman, a criminal defense attorney, explained to Elite Daily:
If an individual were to 'stealth' another person knowing that he had some type of infectious venereal disease, he could be charged with a crime. Under New York Public Health Law, Section 2307, a person who, knowing himself or herself to be infected with an infectious venereal disease, has sexual intercourse with another, is guilty of a misdemeanor. In addition, it is possible that such an act could rise to the level of Reckless Endangerment, a more serious criminal charge.
No matter what the circumstances of your personal experience with stealthing are and no matter what the court ruling is if you choose to come forward with your case, it's important for you to acknowledge that what happened to you was real and not OK.
The first thing any victim should do is to remember — regardless of what the perpetrator tries to tell you — that any sexual act without a partner's consent is sexual assault. Agreeing to have sex with someone with a condom is NOT the same as agreeing to have sex without a condom. Do not let anyone tell you differently.
While this altered appeals court ruling of this case may not bode well for the outlook on stealthing in the eyes of the law, it's important to remember that it's still an act of sexual assault, and it's still wrong. And one court ruling doesn't change that.
Citations: Man Accused of "Stealthing" in Landmark Case Will No Longer Be Convicted of Rape (Cosmopolitan), What To Do If You Think You're A Victim Of Stealthing (Elite Daily), Is Stealthing Illegal? Here's How Guys Can Get In Serious Trouble For It (Elite Daily)