Friday, January 15, 2010

Law School Question Fact Patterns

This LA Times story sent to me, yesterday, by my friend Okiedoke presents the cliche` law school question "fact pattern."  It's also a frightening tale of violence against a woman by her ex-boyfriend. 

The maniac in the picture raped a woman in what he claims was an invitation for sex role play on Craigslist.   In fact the victim's ex-boyfriend was able to induce this idiot to rape his ex- by placing an ad on Craigslist.   The question my friend Okiedoke asks, who if anyone committed a crime?  My answer is, both the ex-boyfriend and the perpetraor of the "role-playing rapist" are guilty of rape. 

As a first step let's let DeeDee Correll summarize the facts for us: 

The advertisement appeared on Craigslist in early December.

"'Need a real aggressive man with no concern for women,' read the posting on the Internet classified advertising forum. Its purported author was a Casper, Wyo., woman, whose photo also was posted.  One week later, a man accepted the offer, forcing his way into the woman's home, tying her up and raping her at knifepoint. 'I'll show you aggressive,'  he allegedly said, according to court testimony.

In fact, authorities say, the woman had nothing to do with the ad. Instead, they say, a former boyfriend had posted it, soliciting her assault.  Such an incident would have been impossible -- or at least much less likely -- 20 years ago, Natrona County Dist. Atty. Mike Blonigen said. 'It's probably only possible in our modern age,' he said. . . The Wyoming case began to unfold Dec. 5. Jebidiah James Stipe, 27, a Carbon, Wyo., native and Marine stationed at Twentynine Palms, Calif., allegedly posed as his ex-girlfriend and placed the ad seeking an aggressive man.  Two days later, she spotted it and contacted the Natrona County Sheriff's Office, as well as Craigslist, which took down the ad.  But Ty Oliver McDowell, 26, from Bar Nunn, Wyo., had allegedly already seen it.  McDowell, an employee of the Wyoming Medical Center's radiology department, e-mailed the address listed in the ad, according to an affidavit in the case.  McDowell later told authorities that he and the woman exchanged instant messages, and she described what she wanted -- 'humiliation, physical abuse, sexual abuse,' according to investigators -- and gave him her home address.  In fact, authorities say, McDowell was communicating with Stipe.  On Dec. 11, McDowell allegedly went to the woman's home and forced his way inside. He bound, blindfolded and gagged the 25-year-old woman, then raped her as he pressed a knife to her throat, the affidavit said.   Detectives said he told them he thought he was fulfilling her rape fantasy.  McDowell was arrested and charged with first-degree sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary. Stipe was also arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree sexual assault."
Let's assume that the facts as set out in the LAT are proved, both Stipe and McDowell are rapists.

The elements of a crime are both and act and requisite mental intent or mens rea, which is Latin for something.  The act in this case is the sexual assault on Stipe'sl ex-girlfriend.   The fact that Stipe himself did not perpetrate the physical act is not relevant in the same way a contract murder is still murder committed by the criminal soliciting the commission of the crime.

McDowell's defense will be that he lacked the requisite intent to commit rape, I say bullshit.  Let's bear in mind, your "consent" to the commission of a violent crime against yourself does not relieve the perpetrator of criminal liability.  The criminal law is for the protection of not just individuals but of the community as a whole.  Thus, a victim's consent is not relevant--McDowell's mistake of fact may be interesting but it's a distraction from the fact that he committed a thoroughly violent and criminal act--and his actions in binding, gagging, and holding a knife to her throat are damning on the issue of his requisite criminal intent. 

I say, weird case, weird fact pattern--it's a damn good thing these two sick bastards are off the street.

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