Swedish Man Will Employ Somnambulist Defense in Rape TrialS

A 27-year-old Swedish man who was accused last June of raping a sleeping woman has claimed that he too was asleep during the incident, citing an (unrecorded) history of somnambulism and sexsomnia in his defense. Though rare, sexsomnia is an actual medical condition whereby people do not merely have intense sex dreams — they perform full-fledged sex acts while asleep.

The incident occurred last June in the village of Vihelmina when the woman had fallen asleep after a night of drinking, one of those ultimately irrelevant contextual details that defense attorneys in rape cases love to draw attention to. According to the indictment, the 27-year-old man then had intercourse with the sleeping woman, and since the woman was judged to be in a helpless state during the alleged attack, prosecutors charged the man with rape. The man, however, has claimed that he too was sleeping at the time and only woke up when the woman started pushing him. Under questioning, the man said, "I was awakened by her pushing me away and asking, 'Are you awake?'"

Though an expert on sleep disorders is scheduled to testify at the man's trial, it'll be hard for prosecutors to ignore the man's anecdotal evidence, which details a long history of somnambulating sexual assault against his girlfriend, who, he explains, would tell him that his supposedly restorative night of static sleeping was actually one long, unconscious attempt to have sex with her. Despite the apparent shakiness of the defense, there are legal precedents for the man's claim: in 2007, a 38-year-old man was acquitted on a sexsomonia defense after being accused of molesting an 8-year-old girl, and in 2011, a man was acquitted on appeal using the sex-while-sleeping defense after he was initially convicted for raping a sleeping woman.

Sleeping man rapes sleeping woman [The Local]

Image via Helder Almeida/Shutterstock.