A state court has agreed to hear the case of a prisoner who's protested his rape conviction by hunger-striking for the past four years. Being force-fed is "torture," he says—and not just because prison food tastes bad.
William Coleman, a British-born, 49-year-old former college football coach, is currently serving an eight-year sentence in a Connecticut prison after being convicted of raping his ex-wife. Coleman claims he's innocent, and has spent the past four years subsisting mostly on liquid foods as part of his hunger strike. Eating solid food now causes him pain, which is why he filed suit against the state—which has tried to keep him alive by force-feeding him. In 2009, a court ruled that force feeding Coleman was permissible, but now the state's highest court has agreed to hear the guy out and decide whether he can wither away and die on the state's watch if he so desires. The ACLU is backing him, and international law seems to support his position.
Do you think Coleman's commitment to his cause lends credibility to his innocence claim? His supporters seem to believe so, pointing to his extreme weight loss (he's now half his former size) and dedication to his campaign. A website made in Coleman's defense states that he's has been offered his parole papers, but has refused to sign them because doing so would mean admitting to his crime. At his trial, Coleman's lawyers pointed out that his ex-wife hired a divorce lawyer before reporting the rape to police, and made her allegation after Coleman sought sole custody of their children. Coleman apparently passed a polygraph test about the rape, but polygraph results aren't admissible evidence in Connecticut.
Ultimately, Coleman's conviction rested on his ex-wife's testimony, but that's enough evidence to convict; at trial, she testified that Coleman was "controlling" and made her feel like a prisoner. Several witnesses, including two cops, provided corroborating testimony, and the jury believed her case was stronger.
Rapist Briton's victory on 'right' to starve himself to death [UK Daily Mail]
Waterbury jury convicts man for rape of his wife [Waterbury Republican-American, via Truth in Justice]
Image Tim Pearce, Los Gatos/via Flickr.