​Swedish Man's Rape Conviction Overturned Because of "Sexsomnia"

Illustration for article titled ​Swedish Mans Rape Conviction Overturned Because of Sexsomnia

Earlier this month, a Swedish appeals court overturned conviction and two-year prison sentence of Mikael Halvarsson, a man who allegedly assaulted a woman while he was asleep, citing that he was fully asleep when the attack happened. This isn't the first time someone was acquitted for "sexsomnia," a condition similar to sleepwalking where in a person engages in sexual activity while completely asleep.

The attack took place earlier this year in April. Halvarsson was sharing a bed with his female victim, though they had separate blankets. The victim woke up to Halvarsson assaulting her, and called police the next day. When they arrived, they found Halvarsson asleep in her bed.

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Halvarsson's ex-girlfriend testified, saying that he had previously attempted to have sex with her while she was sleeping. When she stopped him, he "acted confused and asked what had happened." Because that's an ironclad defense right there. His mother also testified that he had "disturbed sleeping patterns."

But Halvarsson maintained he did not intend to have sex with his victim, and a doctor that specialized in sleep disorders testified on his behalf, claiming that it was very possible he suffered from "sexsomnia." And I guess the Swedish court bought that, as the Guardian reports:

The argument that the defendant "was in a state of sleepiness, unconscious of what was happening, does not seem absurd," the court said in its judgment.

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"Does not seem absurd." Oh yeah, I guess that's not totally out of the picture. Cool, let him go.

Okay. If Halversson is a "sexsomniac" and this had happened before, Halversson should have known to be more careful around people. He could have chosen not to sleep in the same bed as a woman and avoided the situation altogether.

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And while the decision is obviously controversial, seeing as he did sexually assault the woman, I'm far more curious as to what protections are in place for victims of crimes like this. It would be a crime in itself to just leave a sexual assault victim to hang with no support while her attacker is acquitted.


Image via Shutterstock.

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DISCUSSION

Assuming that he was actually asleep and that he and the doctor aren't lying, what do you propose should happen to him? I think it's terrible for the woman and one would hope that she's getting assistance of some kind if she needs/wants it. Still, if he genuinely wasn't in control of his actions (after all, people do ALL KINDS of things while sleeping) I have a hard time sending him to jail for it.