There are many gray areas of the law: areas that must be thoroughly examined and tested in order to determine what they mean and protect and how they may or may not apply to specific situations.
In some cases, one such gray area is consent during a sexual encounter. Sometimes consent is quite obvious and sometimes it is obvious that a person does not consent. But there are also cases when one person maintains that a sexual act was consensual while the other party denies the claim. That appears to be the situation for two 19-year-old students in Illinois.
According to news reports, a male and a female student were having consensual sex when the situation took a volatile turn. The woman says she was the victim of a sexual assault while the man argues that he was only re-enacting behaviors from scenes in the book and film "Fifty Shades of Grey."
The books in the series have proven to quite polarizing as they romanticize sexual relationships that involve acts of dominance and submission. Millions of fans enjoy the stories, but others argue that they gloss over and distort the dangerous and abusive side of these exchanges.
In this particular case, the man allegedly tied up and blindfolded the woman and struck her with a belt. He says that his intent was to mimic acts in the popular books, not to hurt the woman. She says that she repeatedly asked him to stop and fled as soon as she was able to.
The man was charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, and it is likely that the case will significantly depend on consent. Additionally, the students' ages, criminal history and relationship will also likely be taken into consideration as this case proceeds.
It will be interesting to see how this case is resolved. It will also be interesting to see if other similar cases involving sex offenses will be impacted by any rulings made in this situation.
In the meantime, it can serve as a good reminder that criminal charges may be pursued even if a person doesn't think he or she has done anything wrong. There can be a lot of gray areas when it comes to these cases and having the support and guidance of an attorney can be crucial.
Source: NBC Chicago, "UIC Student Accused in Sex Assault Tiled to '50 Shades of Grey' Movie," Feb. 23, 2015