Bizarre case of consent

A curious news report from what sounds like a difficult court case:

A man has been acquitted of raping a woman – because she had at least 14 personalities.

In a bizarre case, a jury was told that the 40-year-old man was accused of sexually assaulting the woman 11 times in her home in 2004 while some of her alter egos looked on and at times intervened.

During the District Court trial that finished last Tuesday, the court was told three of the 33-year-old woman’s personalities were present at one of the alleged incidents.

The complainant said two identities had been at other incidents.

Top WA criminal lawyer Judith Fordham, who watched the case, said it was the strangest she had seen.

“Although there have been many cases in our courts where the accused has a mental illness, and some where victims or alleged victims suffer from mental illness, in 20 years as a lawyer I have never seen anything quite like this,” she said.

Multiple personality disorder, now called dissociative identity disorder, is a controversial diagnosis that generally causes confusion whenever it appears in a legal case.

In one famous case, Kenneth Bianchi (the ‘Hillside Strangler’) claimed that he could not be held responsible for a series of murders as another ‘evil’ personality committed the crimes.

He was suspected to be faking and was caught out when a psychologist deliberately fed him the false information that MPD “always” involved more than two personalities.

Another personality ‘appeared’ shortly after and Bianchi was convicted of the murders.

Link to news report from News.com.au (via anomalist).
Link to BBC info on the Bianchi case.

One Comment

  1. Posted September 12, 2006 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m not familiar with the Bianchi case, but from the snippet of information you provided, I have this to say: the appearance of another personality in response to false information does not, in itself, prive that he was feigning the disorder. There is a theory that DID can be caused by suggestion, in highly suggestible persons, in the context of porrly-performed psychotherapy. If that is true, it also could be exacerbated by deliberate attempts on the part of a therapist.
    Having said that, I must add that, in my opinion,
    even the presence of true DID is not grounds for an insanity defense.


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