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Consent Counts Resources

Consent Counts Resources

March 26, 2014 – Washington DC. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety." Click to open Subject Index, Table of Authorities & Amicus Brief Click to open Miles Motion Click to open Miles Brief Click to open Goverment Brief Click to open Defense Response
Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 23, 2007. The cases were tried before Richard E. Welch, III, J. After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review. James L. Sultan for the defendant. Kenneth E. Steinfield, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. CORDY, J. Based on an assault that occurred during the evening of June 6, 2007, at a home in Hamilton, a jury in the Superior Court convicted the defendant of attempted murder in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 16; armed home invasion in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 18C; assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 15A (b); and assault and battery in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 13A.(1) A divided panel of the Appeals Court affirmed the convictions, Commonwealth v. Carey, 79 Mass. App. Ct. 587 (2011), and we granted the defendant's application for further appellate review. On appeal, the defendant contends that the assault constituted a consensual sexual encounter. He thus argues that, in light of the decision of the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 577-578 (2003) (Lawrence), the trial judge committed constitutional error by not instructing the jury that consent is a defense to the crimes of armed home invasion and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. The defendant also claims that the judge erred by admitting certain evidence regarding materials retrieved from his home computer. This evidence included eight photographs and one ninety-second "video clip" (video), each depicting a nude or partially nude woman being strangled seemingly to death; an Internet article reporting the successful appeal of a man convicted of four strangulation murders; and testimony regarding the number of images stored on the computer "that were strangulation-oriented or had strangulation themes," as well as testimony about Internet searches and the number of files saved on the computer that concerned asphyxiation. Click to download a PDF of the case.
"When the Levee Breaks: A guide to dealing with and avoiding arrest and prosecution in BDSM scenes."  "When the Levee Breaks" is a companion to the NCSF publication, "The Aftermath," and is a guide to provide a perspective for those who have, through mistake, misunderstanding, or a fleeting lapse of reason, committed an act of criminally actionable sexual assault.  It is not intended to provide a defense for indefensible acts. "When the Levee Breaks" also provides information on how to better protect oneself against arrest and prosecution. Click to get a PDF of "When the Levee Breaks"
"The Aftermath: A guide for victims of sexual assault and/or intimate partner violence in the BDSM community,"  by Natalie Quintero "The Aftermath" is a compilation of advice that is regularly provided to victims who ask for help through NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response project. This guide will educate anyone in the BDSM community who has been victimized on what one might expect to experience after an assault, what one's options are, things to consider when weighing options and making decisions on what to do next, what one might expect if one decides to report the experience, as well as the resources available to assist in coping with and healing from abuse. Click to get a PDF of "The Aftermath"
A recent Rhode Island decision, State v. Gaspar, reversed a BDSM assault conviction on evidentiary grounds that related in part to the issue of consent.  While the court did not discuss the issue of consent with any specificity, the decision contains the following assessment of the central issue in the case: The evidence adduced at the trial of this criminal case included testimony concerning a multitude of unconventional sexual practices but ultimately presented only one question for the jury's determination: did the events of the night in question constitute a mutually consensual sexual encounter between two adults or a brutal sexual assault? State v. Gaspar  982 A.2d 140, 141 (R.I.,2009) Click to open Rhode Island V Gasper PDF
In Govan v. State, 913 N.E.2d.237 (Indiana Appeals Court 2009), the defendant (Govan) was convicted of both assault and battery, based on a BDSM incident in which he “punished” the victim (A.H.) by branding her with a hot knife and whipping her with an electrical extension cord.  The appellate court rejected Govan’s argument that A.H.’s consent was a defense to his conduct.  First, it ruled that consent could not be a defense to the assault charge.  Second, although the court acknowledged that consent was a valid defense in a battery case having “sexual overtones”, it found that the use by Govan of a knife invalidated the defense: Turning to the case at hand it is undisputed that it involves sexual overtones.  Notwithstanding those overtones, A.H.’s consent is not a defense to the crime because Govan’s actions involved a deadly weapon,...namely a knife, and therefore A.H.’s consent is not available as a defense to battery.  Govan, 913 N.E.2d at 242-243. Click to open Govan v Indiana PDF
In this case, the defendant’s lawyer sought to invoke the doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, which held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  That argument was rejected. Click to open California v Febrissy PDF
An argument based on Lawrence v. Texas was rejected in the Nebraska case of State v. Van, 268 Neb.814 (2004).  Van was convicted of first-degree assault on the basis of an extended imprisonment and extremely intense BDSM/torture of a gay male submissive.  The submissive initially consented to practices that were quite intense, but the evidence was in conflict as to whether he later withdrew that consent.  On appeal, defendant Van argued that this was a case of “two adults who, with complete and mutual consent, engaged in sexual practices common to their homosexual, BDSM lifestyle” and as such was protected under Lawrence v. Texas. Rejecting that argument, the court made three points.  First, it noted that the Lawrence opinion contained a phrase that its doctrine only applies “absent injury to a person”.  Second, the court emphasized that the evidence on the issue of consent was not clear-cut.  Finally, and most fundamentally, the court held—citing the other decisions discussed in this paper—that consent is not a defense to a charge of assault: Our statutes defining first and second degree assault include no reference to consent…This court has held that “all attempts to do physical violence which amount to a statutory assault are unlawful and a breach of the peace, and a person cannot consent to an unlawful assault”. Click to open Nebraska v Van PDF
Lawrence v. Texas, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case for privacy and sexual freedom rights, held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  Attempts to argue Lawrence in appellate cases related to BDSM have been unsuccessful to date.  Click to open Lawrence v Texas PDF
People v. Jovanovic was a New York case involving an intense scene between a man and a woman who had previously engaged in extensive Internet discussion of their BDSM interests.  The scene apparently went bad, and the woman went to the police.  Mr. Jovanovic was tried and convicted of assault, sexual assault and kidnapping and spent 20 months in prison.  Email correspondence regarding their pre-negotiations was excluded under the rape shield laws.  The Court of Appeals, although it reversed the convictions on evidentiary grounds, very explicitly stated in a footnote that consent, while available as a defense to the charges of kidnapping and sexual assault, was irrelevant to the assault charge: There is no available defense of consent on a charge of assault under Penal Law §§ 120.00[1] and 120.05[2] (contrast, Penal Law § 120.05[5] [where lack of consent is an element]). Indeed, while a meaningful distinction can be made between an ordinary violent beating and violence in which both parties voluntarily participate for their own sexual gratification, nevertheless, just as a person cannot consent to his or her own murder (see, People v. Duffy, 79 N.Y.2d 611, 584 N.Y.S.2d 739, 595 N.E.2d 814), as a matter of public policy, a person cannot avoid criminal responsibility for an assault that causes injury or carries a risk of serious harm, even if the victim asked for or consented to the act (see, e.g., State v. Brown, 154 N.J.Super. 511, 512, 381 A.2d 1231, 1232; People v. Samuels, 250 Cal.App.2d 501, 513-514, 58 Cal.Rptr. 439, 447, cert. denied, 390 U.S. 1024, 88 S.Ct. 1404, 20 L.Ed.2d 281; Commonwealth v. Appleby, 380 Mass. 296, 402 N.E.2d 1051; Iowa v. Collier, 372 N.W.2d 303). People v. Jovanovic  263 A.D.2d 182, 198, 700 N.Y.S.2d 156, 169 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept.,1999) It is important to note that the Jovanovic court cited the Samuels, Appleby and Collier decisions, confirming that the prevailing view is that there is a settled  Click to open New Yort v Jovanovic PDF
Some cases arising from BDSM incidents have been prosecuted under the criminal charge of battery.  Battery, unlike assault, does not necessarily involve an attack by one person against another.  The crime of battery is injurious touching or striking of one person by another.  Thus, in battery cases, there is an issue as to the context in which the injurious touching or striking occurred.  As the Court of Appeals of Indiana stated in Helton v. State, 624N.E.2d499(1993) at 514, n.22: Consent is connected with the harm or evil sought to be prevented; therefore, if the victim consents to the defendant’s touching, that touching is not rude or insolent and should not be considered unlawful unless it meets one of the exceptions to the general rule. The exceptions to the general rule (in Indiana) that consent is a defense to battery, and specifically is a defense available in cases “involving sexual overtones”, are as follows: (1)       Where the defendant goes beyond acts consented to; (2) Where it is against public policy to permit the conduct or resulting harm even though it is consented to, as, as where there are no sexual overtones and the battery is a severe one which involves a breach of the public peace, as well as, an invasion of the victim’s physical security;  (3)  Where consent is ineffective as where it is obtained by fraud or from one lacking legal capacity to consent; (4)  Where a deadly weapon is employed; (5)  Where death results; or, (6)  Where the battery is atrocious or aggravated.  [Helton 624 N.E.2d at 514, citing Jaske v. State, 539N.E.2d 14, 18 (Supreme Court Indiana 1989).] The concept here is that touching or striking, unlike an attack, is not inherently criminal.  (Similarly, the conduct underlying the offense of rape—sexual intercourse—is mutually pleasurable conduct when consensual, and becomes criminal only in the absence of consent.)  Thus, when that conduct is consensual, even where some injury is caused, it is more palatable to find that such consent prevents the conduct from being a criminal offense. Click to open Helton v Indiana PDF  
In Iowa v. Collier, there were wildly differing accounts given of a BDSM incident, but the judge refused to let the jury consider the question of consent.  The Appellate Court upheld the conviction and ruled that consent was not a defense.  Significantly, the Iowa law on assault was in most ways similar to the Model Penal Code. Provided, that where the person doing any of the above enumerated acts, and such other person, are voluntary participants in a sport, social or other activity, not in itself criminal, and such act is a reasonably foreseeable incident of such sport or activity, and does not create an unreasonable risk of serious injury or breach of the peace, the act shall not be an assault. I.C.A. § 708.1 The court’s moralistic tone in rejecting the consent defense is a good illustration of the type of thinking that seems to underly most judges’ handling of BDSM assault cases: The foregoing discussion compels us to conclude that, in the present case, the legislature did not intend sadomasochistic activity to be a "sport, social or other activity" under section 708.1. We are hesitant to give a precise definition of this term and believe it is more appropriate that its meaning be interpreted on a case by case basis. However, it is obvious to this court that the legislature did not intend the term to include an activity which has been repeatedly disapproved by other jurisdictions and considered to be in conflict with the general moral principles of our society. In fact, the statutory provision in question specifically excludes activities which would "create an unreasonable risk of serious injury." There can be little doubt that the sadomasochistic activities involved in this case expose persons to the very type of injury deemed unacceptable by the legislature. Were we to follow defendant's broad interpretation of "social activity," street fighting, barroom brawls and child molestation could be deemed acceptable social behavior, since such conduct is considered acceptable by some segment of society. State v. Collier  372 N.W.2d 303, 307 (Iowa App.,1985) Click to open Iowa v Collier PDF  
In most BDSM assault cases, the testimony of a complaining witness (the injured person) is central to the case, and often there is conflict on the issue of consent between the defendant and the complaining witness. However, even where both participants agree that the acts in question were consensual, the courts have held that consent cannot be a defense.  Thus, in Commonwealth v. Appleby, a 1980 Massachusetts case, the court said: “Grimm’s consent to assault and battery upon him by Appleby by means of a dangerous weapon cannot absolve Appleby of the crime…”Commonwealth v. Appleby, 380 Mass.296, 311, 402N.E.2d 1051,1061 (Mass. 1980). Click to open Massachusetts v Appleby PDF  
An early, and typically bad, example of a pure “consent is no defense” ruling is People v Samuels, a 1967 California decision.  In that case, Martin Samuels was convicted of assault based on his conduct in a film of an apparently consensual BDSM scene.  The court not only rejected the consent defense, but also appeared to hold the view that any such consent would be “some form of mental aberration”: Even if it be assumed that the victim in the ‘vertical’ film did in fact suffer from some form of mental aberration which compelled him to submit to a beating which was so severe as to constitute an aggravated assault, defendant's conduct in inflicting that beating was no less violative of a penal statute obviously designed to prohibit one human being from severely or mortally injuring another.People v. Samuels  250 Cal.App.2d 501, 514, 58 Cal.Rptr. 439, 447 (Cal.App. 1967) The Samuels decision was cited as recently as 2006, in People v Febrissy. Click to open California v Samuels PDF  
Legal cases dealing with the consent counts project. To date, there is not a single appellate court decision anywhere in this country that has accepted consent as a defense in an assault or abuse prosecution arising from BDSM conduct.  The following overview, from Consent to Harm by Vera Bergelson, is a good summary of the case law: Since any harmful act that does not fit into the “athletic” or “medical” exception is, by definition, criminal, unless the inflicted injury is not serious, assessment of the seriousness of the victim’s injury determines the outcome of many cases involving consensual harm.  A typical penal statute classifies bodily injury as serious if it “creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”  Pursuant to this definition, any short-term, non-life-threatening injury should not be deemed “serious.”  Yet, as the MPC acknowledges, the assessment of the seriousness of harm is often affected by judges’ “moral judgments about the iniquity of the conduct.”  Courts tend to inflate the risk and harmfulness of an activity they want to denounce.  For example, any injury caused during a sadomasochistic encounter has been consistently classified as serious. 28 Pace Law Review 683, 691   Case index, click to view the individual case summary and a PDF of the case.  California v Samuels , 4/28/1967  Massachusetts v Appleby , 4/1/1980  Iowa v Collier, 5/25/1985  Helton v Indiana , 12/1/1993  New York v Jovanovic , 12/21/1999  Lawrence v Texas, 6/26/2003  Nebraska v Van , 11/12/2004  California v Febrissy, 7/1/2006  Govan v Indiana, 9/9/2009  Rhode Island v Gasper, 10/30/2009 United States, Appellee v Miles  3/24/2014 Law Review Articles, click to open the individual PDF of this article. Sex Is Not A Sport: Consent And Violence In Criminal Law , 2001-2002 Beyond The Pleasure Principle: The Criminalization Of Consensual Sadomasochistic Sex , 2001-2002 Morality-Based Legislation Is Alive And Well: Why The Law Permits Consent To Body Modification But Not Sadomasochistic Sex , 2006-2007 The Right to Be Hurt: Testing the Boundaries of Consent , Febuary 2007  Pain, Pleasure, And Consenting Women: Exploring Feminist Responses To S/M and Its Legal Regulation in Canada Through Jelinek's The Piano Teacher , 2007  Consent to Harm , 2007-2008 Autonomy, Dignity, and Consent to Harm , 1/29/2008 The Moral Limits Of Consent As A Defense In The Criminal Law , 2009   
Law citations dealing with consent, compiled by the NCSF Consent Counts Project  Alabama  Alaska  Arizona  Arkansas  California Colorado  Connecticut  Delaware  D.C. Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho  Illinois  Iowa  Kansas  Kentucky Louisiana  Maine  Maryland  Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York N. Carolina N. Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island S. Carolina S. Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington W. Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming     Click to download a PDF of this document State Assault Consent Definitions Cases AL 13A-6-20 (1st degree) 13A-2-7  13A-1-2    13A-6-21 (2nd degree) (physical injury, serious physical injury) 13A-6-22 (3rd degree)   AK 11.41.200 (1st degree)   11.81.900 (serious physical injury, reckless)   11.41.210 (2nd degree) 11.41.220 (3rd degree) 11.41.250 (reckless endangerment) AZ 13-1203 Simple Assault       13-12-4 Aggravated Assault   AR 5-13-201 1st degree battery   5-1-102 definitions   5-13-202 2nd degree battery 5-13-203 3rd degree battery 5-13-204 Aggravated assault 5-13-205 1st degree assault 5-13-206 2nd degree assault 5-13-207 3rd degree assault   CA Penal Code 241 Assault, Punishment   Penal Code 7 Words and Phrases defined   Penal Code 243 Battery, Punishment Penal Code 240 Assault Defined Penal Code 245 Assault with deadly weapon or force likely to produce great bodily injury Penal Code 242 Battery Defined     CO 18-3-202 (1st degree)       18-3-203 (2nd degree) 18-3-204 (3rd degree) 18-3-208 (reckless endangerment) CT 53a-59 (1st degree)   53a-3 (serious physical injury, recklessly)   53a-60 (2nd degree) 53a-61 (3rd degree) 53a-63 (reckless endangerment 1st degree) 53a-64 (reckless endangerment 2nd degree) DE 11 Del Code 611 (3rd degree) 11 Del. Code 452 Consent of victim to inflictions of physical injury as defense 11 Del Code 222   11 Del Code 612 (2nd degree) 11 Del Code 613 (1st degree) 11 Del Code 603 (reckless endangering 2nd degree) 11 Del Code 604 (reckless endangering 1st degree) DC 22-404 (Assault)   No definitions section in this particular subchapter – “Serious bodily injury” defined elsewhere   22-404.01 (Aggravated Assault) 22-407 (threats of bodily harm)   FL 784.011 Assault       784.021 Aggravated Assault 784.03 Battery, Felony battery 784.045 Aggravated Battery   GA 16-5-20 Simple Assault   Definitions contained within the statutes   16-5-23 Simple Battery 16-5-23.1 Battery HI 707-710 Assault 1st degree 702-734 Consent to Bodily Injury 707-700 definitions related to offenses against the person   707-711 Assault 2nd degree 707-712 Assault 3rd…
Resources for Media

Resources for Media

Includes vital statistics on alternative sexual expression, interview contact list, and a selection of articles from national publications.

Community Resources

Community Resources

Includes tips on how to speak to the media, sound-bites on alternative sexual expression, and a primer on how to write a letter to the editor.

NCSF in the News

NCSF in the News

  • United States, Appellee V. Miles

    March 26, 2014 – Washington DC. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety." Click to open Subject Index, Table of Authorities & Amicus Brief Click to open Miles Motion Click to…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal Legal Case
  • COMMONWEALTH vs. JOHN CAREY

    Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 23, 2007. The cases were tried before Richard E. Welch, III, J. After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review. James L. Sultan for the defendant. Kenneth E. Steinfield, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. CORDY, J. Based on an assault that occurred during the evening of June 6, 2007,…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal
  • NCSF Steps Up for Detroit

    NCSF Steps Up for Detroit NCSF is there to help you when you need it. Just ask the Detroit BDSM community, who recently came under fire from a local news affiliate. The NBC Channel 4 Defenders were out to get a sensational story on Robert Bashara, whose wife was murdered in January, 2012. Since Bashara's BDSM activities had become public, the Defenders took concealed cameras in to a local BDSM…






    Tags: Detroit
  • Rhode Island v Gasper

    A recent Rhode Island decision, State v. Gaspar, reversed a BDSM assault conviction on evidentiary grounds that related in part to the issue of consent.  While the court did not discuss the issue of consent with any specificity, the decision contains the following assessment of the central issue in the case: The evidence adduced at the trial of this criminal case included testimony concerning a multitude of unconventional sexual practices…







  • Govan v Indiana

    In Govan v. State, 913 N.E.2d.237 (Indiana Appeals Court 2009), the defendant (Govan) was convicted of both assault and battery, based on a BDSM incident in which he “punished” the victim (A.H.) by branding her with a hot knife and whipping her with an electrical extension cord.  The appellate court rejected Govan’s argument that A.H.’s consent was a defense to his conduct.  First, it ruled that consent could not be…







  • California v Febrissy

    In this case, the defendant’s lawyer sought to invoke the doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, which held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  That argument was rejected. Click to open California v Febrissy PDF







  • Nebraska v Van

    An argument based on Lawrence v. Texas was rejected in the Nebraska case of State v. Van, 268 Neb.814 (2004).  Van was convicted of first-degree assault on the basis of an extended imprisonment and extremely intense BDSM/torture of a gay male submissive.  The submissive initially consented to practices that were quite intense, but the evidence was in conflict as to whether he later withdrew that consent.  On appeal, defendant Van…







  • Lawrence v Texas

    Lawrence v. Texas, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case for privacy and sexual freedom rights, held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  Attempts to argue Lawrence in appellate cases related to BDSM have been unsuccessful to date.  Click to open Lawrence v Texas PDF







  • New York v Jovanovic

    People v. Jovanovic was a New York case involving an intense scene between a man and a woman who had previously engaged in extensive Internet discussion of their BDSM interests.  The scene apparently went bad, and the woman went to the police.  Mr. Jovanovic was tried and convicted of assault, sexual assault and kidnapping and spent 20 months in prison.  Email correspondence regarding their pre-negotiations was excluded under the rape…







  • Helton v Indiana

    Some cases arising from BDSM incidents have been prosecuted under the criminal charge of battery.  Battery, unlike assault, does not necessarily involve an attack by one person against another.  The crime of battery is injurious touching or striking of one person by another.  Thus, in battery cases, there is an issue as to the context in which the injurious touching or striking occurred.  As the Court of Appeals of Indiana…







  • Iowa v Collier

    In Iowa v. Collier, there were wildly differing accounts given of a BDSM incident, but the judge refused to let the jury consider the question of consent.  The Appellate Court upheld the conviction and ruled that consent was not a defense.  Significantly, the Iowa law on assault was in most ways similar to the Model Penal Code. Provided, that where the person doing any of the above enumerated acts, and…







  • Massachusetts v Appleby

    In most BDSM assault cases, the testimony of a complaining witness (the injured person) is central to the case, and often there is conflict on the issue of consent between the defendant and the complaining witness. However, even where both participants agree that the acts in question were consensual, the courts have held that consent cannot be a defense.  Thus, in Commonwealth v. Appleby, a 1980 Massachusetts case, the court…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal Legal Case
  • California v Samuels

    An early, and typically bad, example of a pure “consent is no defense” ruling is People v Samuels, a 1967 California decision.  In that case, Martin Samuels was convicted of assault based on his conduct in a film of an apparently consensual BDSM scene.  The court not only rejected the consent defense, but also appeared to hold the view that any such consent would be “some form of mental aberration”:…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal consent
  • NCSF Wins - Large Non Profit

    At the recent PANTHEON OF LEATHER XX awards held August 15th in Los Angeles, the NCSF received the award for "Large Non Profit Organization of the Year".  Yay NCSF! Full list of Pantheon of Leather XX Award Recipients  






    Tags: NCSF
  • NCSF Condemns the Atlanta Police Department's Raid on the Eagle

    NCSF Condemns the Atlanta Police Department's Raid on the Eagle September 15, 2009 - On September 10th, the Atlanta Eagle was raided by local police who used excessive force and voiced anti-gay slurs while handcuffing 62 patrons and 8 employees, forcing them to lie face-down on the floor for over an hour. The strong use of force included the presence of the "Red Dog unit" which typically deals with crimes…






    Tags: Susan Wright Eagle Raid Gay
  • NCSF Statement on NYC Pro-doms

    NCSF Statement on Professional Dominatrices in New York February 11, 2009  NCSF has been contacted by over a dozen concerned members of the BDSM community in New York about the arrests of dozens of professional Dominatrices in Manhattan that started in early 2008. The pro-Domme community in New York City, which has been a vibrant part of the BDSM community for decades, has been ravaged by these prosecutions for prostitution…






    Tags: Susan Wright Dominatrics
  • NCSF in the News

      For more information and current press releases.                 S&M! Lewd Ken dolls! Worhington's wild weekend. The Other Paper (Columbus, Ohio) February, 12, 2009 Despite Right Wing Pressure, Straight BDSM Gathering Goes Forward The Boston Edge February 10, 2009 Interview with Susan Wright, Spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom Kasidie Magazine October 2008 Shrinks: Kinky Sex is a Mental Disorder Mom Logic September, 19, 2008   For some,…






    Tags: Media Rights Sexual Behaviors Alternative Sexual Expression Media Outreach Articles Legal Advocate News
  • NCSF Proudly Celebrates 10 Years of Advocacy

    August 27, 2007 - NCSF proud to be the only group in the country with a national mission committed to changing the political, legal and social environment for those involved with the BDSM, swinging and polyamory communities. NCSF's six programs have directly helped thousands of practitioners, businesses and groups. Four of NCSF's programs began with the founding of NCSF in 1997: the Media Outreach Project, Media Updates, Incident Response, and…






    Tags: Advocate
  • Now Seeking Entries for 2008 "Sexies"

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Susan Wright, 917-848-6544 or Miriam Axel-Lute, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it For more details: www.sexies.org 2008 Sex-Positive Journalism Awards Now Seeking EntriesNationally known journalists and sex-positive advocates to judge "Sexies" November 5, 2007 - To hear some people tell it, all of "the media" is a degenerate, sex-drenched affair. But although there's plenty of talk about the sex lives of celebrities and a willingness to use a scandal to sell…






    Tags: Sexies
  • NCSF 10th Anniversary pins!

    NCSF is proud to produce a limited supply of 10th Anniversary pins. Only a 100 of these specially designed 10th Anniversary pins will be produced, and they're already selling fast!   Are you a pin collector?   Do you wear your leather vest proudly, showing off your many club affiliations?   Then you MUST have this very special pin.      






    Tags: NCSF PINS
  • Swing Clubs - Why NCSF Matters to You!

    A letter from NCSF to the swing club community explaining why NCSF is important to your issues, and how we are furthering those goals. Written and signed by NCSF Board member Doug Wilson. April 27, 2007 Dear Club Owners, I am writing to you on behalf of the lifestyle organizations and businesses affiliated with the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF). I am writing to urge you to join the…






    Tags: Swing
  • Creating Change Conference - Has Your Voice Been Heard?

    November 11, 2006 - Next week the NCSF and ITCR will be represented at the 19th Annual "Creating Change" conference, the largest annual convening of LGBT activists in North America! This groundbreaking conference works to provide LGBT activists and their allies with the information, tools and technical assistance necessary to successfully mobilize our local communities, to combat homophobia and to strengthen our political power in the fight to preserve sexual…






    Tags: Creating Change Conference
  • NCSF Adopts Kink-Aware Professionals List

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom NCSF adopts Kink Aware Professionals February 10, 2006 - Race Bannon and NCSF announce the transfer of management of Kink Aware Professionals to NCSF. The National Coalition of Sexual Freedom is proud to continue and grow the Kink Aware Professionals program which was founded and has been managed by Race Bannon for many years. To find a Kink Aware professional, go to:…






    Tags: KAP
  • Supreme Court Appeal for Communications Decency Act Lawsuit

    August 22, 2005 - New York, NY - Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom have filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the District Court's decision in the Communications Decency Act (CDA) challenge. Their appeal contends the District Court applied an incorrect legal standard for determining whether protected material was improperly banned under the CDA. The District Court also committed legal error in…






    Tags: CDA Nitke
  • NCSF + FSC = Powerhouse!

    July 5, 2005, The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) are pleased to announce their official partnership! As of July 1, 2005, two of the nation's leading organizations dedicated to the rights of consenting adults and free speech will team up to network, educate the public on overlapping issues, raise funding, and reach out to new members. This announcement is being made on the…






    Tags: FSC
  • Free Speech Coalition Files Motion Seeking 2257 TRO

    CANOGA PARK, Calif. – The Free Speech Coalition (FSC) today filed a complaint and motion in the United States District Court of Colorado seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining enforcement of the recently re-issued federal record-keeping and labeling requirements, 18 U.S.C. § 2257, which are due to go into effect June 23, 2005. The case is Free Speech Coalition v. Alberto Gonzales, # 05 CV 1126 WDM. The lawsuit,…






    Tags: FSC
  • NCSF and Barbara Nitke File Amicus Brief in "United States vs. Extreme Associates"

    May 26, 2005 - New York, NY - The obscenity case against Extreme Associates was dismissed by a Federal judge in Pittsburgh, PA, in January, 2005. But the battle isn't over yet: U. S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. NCSF and Barbara Nitke have joined the fight challenging the constitutionality of obscenity laws by filing an Amicus Brief in…






    Tags: Legal Supreme Court Obscenity
  • Sex, Art & Politics Takes on John Ashcroft

    September 7, 2004 New York City The Communications Decency Act (CDA) trial date has been set for October 27-29, 2004, at the United States District Court in New York City. Plaintiffs Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom are contesting the remaining CDA provisions allowing "local community standards" to be used to define obscenity on the Internet. These provisions were not the subject of the 1997 Supreme Court…






    Tags: Susan Wright CDA Nitke
  • Leather Archives & Museum Capital Campaign

    On August 4th, 2004 the Leather Archives & Museum has a $225,000 balloon payment due on its facility at 6418 N. Greenview Avenue in Chicago. $175,000 of this has been raised. Any balance due can be refinanced, but that means thousands of dollars in interest over the next 10 years. The community can do much better things with that money. If you have not donated to the campaign, we're asking…






    Tags: Leather Archives Museum
  • Barbara Nitke visit to SF - PR and calendar of events for Sept 2004

    Mark I. Chester (http://mchester.best.vwh.net) and Dr. Carol Queen's non-profit Center for Sex and Culture (http://www.sexandculture.org), announce a series of events in mid-September 2004 on radical sex photography and artistic freedom, featuring New York City photographer Barbara Nitke (http://www.barbaranitke.com). The events coincide with the upcoming Folsom St. Fair, Sun Sept. 26th, San Francisco's annual leather street fair, California's third largest public outdoor event. Barbara Nitke visit to SF - pr and…






    Tags: Nitke
  • CDA Fundraising Countdown!

    NCSF needs your help fighting our battle against increasing obscenity prosecutions. NCSF's Communications Decency Act lawsuit, filed with Barbara Nitke in Federal Court, is scheduled to go to trial this Fall! John Wirenius, our attorney, has graciously agreed to donate his services pro bono, but we need money to bring in expert witnesses to testify on our behalf (all of the expert witnesses are donating their time to this case).…







  • NCSF's IML Raffle a Success!

    The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is pleased to announce the winner of our 2004 International Mr. Leather Weekend Giveaway Raffle. We would like to thank the producers of IML for the donation of the winner's event packages. The room at the host hotel and air transportation to Chicago is being provided by NCSF. NCSF netted approximately $2,000 after raffle expenses. LadyKuanYin from Florida was the winner, having purchased her…






    Tags: Raffle IML
  • NCSF Spearheads First National Swing Leadership Conference

    March 10, 2004 - Chicago, Illinois - The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Club Adventure, Inc. held a leadership conference for swing club owners in Chicago on February 28 and 29, 2004. The conference was attended by over 50 people, representing dozens of swing clubs across the country. Primarily focused on the rights of consenting adults in the SM-leather-fetish, swing, and polyamory communities, NCSF is committed to creating a…






    Tags: Swing
  • NCSF Calls for Reinstatement of Cuffs at Iowa State University

    The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom supports the rights of adults at Iowa State University to maintain their educational and social SM group, Cuffs. NCSF condemns any form of discrimination or persecution of consenting adults who engage in SM educational activities, and calls for Cuffs' organizational privileges to be reinstated and for the assault allegations to be dropped at the March 1st investigative hearing by Iowa State University. University-approved SM…






    Tags: Susan Wright SM
  • NCSF Announces Swing Leadership Conference

    The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, in conjunction with Club Adventure, is pleased to present a Leadership Conference for owners of swing clubs and community members, scheduled to take place in Chicago, February 28 and 29, 2004.







  • NCSF in Time magazine

    National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is proud to be mentioned by Time Magazine in an article entitled "Bondage Unbound" by John Cloud in the January 19th issue. National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is proud to be mentioned by Time Magazine in an article entitled "Bondage Unbound" by John Cloud in the January 19th issue. To read the article, go to: http://www.time.com/time/2004/sex/article/bondage_unbound_growing01a.html It is the policy of the National Coalition for…







  • PPF Fund Announcement

    The PPF Fund is an exciting way to support two fantastic organizations dedicated to protecting the past and future of our Community. Help support the cause by making a donation directly to either organization by snail mail (at the address listed below). Please make your check payable to either Leather Archives & Museum, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, or send a check for each! You can also make a direct…







  • NCSF Call to Action

    A social and educational event, Fetish in the Fall, scheduled to take place in Kenner, Louisiana (part of greater New Orleans) has been attacked by the local police chief. Please see the press release below that was sent by the police to the New Orleans media.







  • NCSF Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on the Texas Sodomy Law

    WASHINGTON DC, JUNE 26, 2003 -- The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom applauds the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Texas sodomy law. The justices voted 6-3 to overturn their 1986 decision on Bowers v Hardwick (GA), stating that the sodomy law is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and that by singling out gay people, it violates the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.







  • Eden Sarfaty Named Executive Director of NCSF

    WASHINGTON DC, JUNE 24, 2003 -- The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) has named Eden Sarfaty as Executive Director. Sarfaty, a Washington, DC attorney, is an expert in the area of legislative and administrative law, with experience in the management of national associations, lobbying at all levels of state and federal government, and criminal defense. He will take the helm from Leigha Fleming, acting Executive Director, on July 1st,…







  • Hotel Outreach Project

    The religious extremist organization, Concerned Women for America, continues to attack hotels that host SM events. CWA has a petition up now targeting IML that will be sent to their host hotels (CWA Petition). An NCSF volunteer has kindly offered to head up the NCSF Hotel Outreach Project to counter their sensationalized rhetoric by gathering data and supporting evidence that SM events aren't dangerous and can be profitable for businesses.…







  • NCSF Reaches Agreement with Cendant Hotels on SM Events

    September 30, 2002 - Responding to concerns that it was prohibiting franchisees from hosting events for "sadomasochism enthusiasts," the Cendant Corporation Hotel Group, the world's largest hotel franchisor, has assured the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom that it will honor the right of franchisees to host the events of their choice.







  • 300 People Attend Barbara Nitke Photography Exhibit

    On July 10, 2002, the opening reception of Barbara Nitke: Twenty Years was attended by 300 people at Art @ Large. The Nitke show can be viewed until August 3rd at Art @ Large, 630 Ninth Ave, No. 707, New York, NY. On July 10, 2002, the opening reception of Barbara Nitke: Twenty Years was attended by 300 people at Art @ Large. The Nitke show can be viewed until…







  • NCSF Counters Attack by Radical Right on Sexual Minority Groups

    WASHINGTON, DC (February 14, 2002) The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), a national organization committed to protecting freedom of sexual expression among consenting adults, today a launched a new initiative that provides support to sexual minority groups under attack by radical right wing groups.







  • Challenging Internet Obscenity Law, Historic Lawsuit is Filed by NCSF and Artist Barbara Nitke

    NEW YORK CITY (December 11, 2001) The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), a national civil liberties organization, and Barbara Nitke, an acclaimed New York City artist who operates her own Web site (www.BarbaraNitke.com), today filed a court challenge that aims to overturn the last remaining Internet censorship provision of the flawed Communications Decency Act.







Action Alerts!

Action Alerts!

  • United States, Appellee V. Miles

    March 26, 2014 – Washington DC. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety." Click to open Subject Index, Table of Authorities & Amicus Brief Click to open Miles Motion Click to…





    Written on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 10:11
    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal Legal Case
  • COMMONWEALTH vs. JOHN CAREY

    Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 23, 2007. The cases were tried before Richard E. Welch, III, J. After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review. James L. Sultan for the defendant. Kenneth E. Steinfield, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. CORDY, J. Based on an assault that occurred during the evening of June 6, 2007,…





    Written on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 11:22
    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal
  • Rhode Island v Gasper

    A recent Rhode Island decision, State v. Gaspar, reversed a BDSM assault conviction on evidentiary grounds that related in part to the issue of consent.  While the court did not discuss the issue of consent with any specificity, the decision contains the following assessment of the central issue in the case: The evidence adduced at the trial of this criminal case included testimony concerning a multitude of unconventional sexual practices…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:32

  • Govan v Indiana

    In Govan v. State, 913 N.E.2d.237 (Indiana Appeals Court 2009), the defendant (Govan) was convicted of both assault and battery, based on a BDSM incident in which he “punished” the victim (A.H.) by branding her with a hot knife and whipping her with an electrical extension cord.  The appellate court rejected Govan’s argument that A.H.’s consent was a defense to his conduct.  First, it ruled that consent could not be…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:28

  • California v Febrissy

    In this case, the defendant’s lawyer sought to invoke the doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, which held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  That argument was rejected. Click to open California v Febrissy PDF





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:26

  • Nebraska v Van

    An argument based on Lawrence v. Texas was rejected in the Nebraska case of State v. Van, 268 Neb.814 (2004).  Van was convicted of first-degree assault on the basis of an extended imprisonment and extremely intense BDSM/torture of a gay male submissive.  The submissive initially consented to practices that were quite intense, but the evidence was in conflict as to whether he later withdrew that consent.  On appeal, defendant Van…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:14

  • Lawrence v Texas

    Lawrence v. Texas, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case for privacy and sexual freedom rights, held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  Attempts to argue Lawrence in appellate cases related to BDSM have been unsuccessful to date.  Click to open Lawrence v Texas PDF





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:11

  • New York v Jovanovic

    People v. Jovanovic was a New York case involving an intense scene between a man and a woman who had previously engaged in extensive Internet discussion of their BDSM interests.  The scene apparently went bad, and the woman went to the police.  Mr. Jovanovic was tried and convicted of assault, sexual assault and kidnapping and spent 20 months in prison.  Email correspondence regarding their pre-negotiations was excluded under the rape…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 20:28

  • Helton v Indiana

    Some cases arising from BDSM incidents have been prosecuted under the criminal charge of battery.  Battery, unlike assault, does not necessarily involve an attack by one person against another.  The crime of battery is injurious touching or striking of one person by another.  Thus, in battery cases, there is an issue as to the context in which the injurious touching or striking occurred.  As the Court of Appeals of Indiana…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 20:16

  • Iowa v Collier

    In Iowa v. Collier, there were wildly differing accounts given of a BDSM incident, but the judge refused to let the jury consider the question of consent.  The Appellate Court upheld the conviction and ruled that consent was not a defense.  Significantly, the Iowa law on assault was in most ways similar to the Model Penal Code. Provided, that where the person doing any of the above enumerated acts, and…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 20:10

CDA Media Reports

CDA Media Reports

Media reports covering the Communications Decency Act lawsuit launched by co-plaintiffs NCSF and Barbara Nitke.

  • United States, Appellee V. Miles

    March 26, 2014 – Washington DC. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety." Click to open Subject Index, Table of Authorities & Amicus Brief Click to open Miles Motion Click to…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal Legal Case
  • COMMONWEALTH vs. JOHN CAREY

    Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 23, 2007. The cases were tried before Richard E. Welch, III, J. After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review. James L. Sultan for the defendant. Kenneth E. Steinfield, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. CORDY, J. Based on an assault that occurred during the evening of June 6, 2007,…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal
  • Rhode Island v Gasper

    A recent Rhode Island decision, State v. Gaspar, reversed a BDSM assault conviction on evidentiary grounds that related in part to the issue of consent.  While the court did not discuss the issue of consent with any specificity, the decision contains the following assessment of the central issue in the case: The evidence adduced at the trial of this criminal case included testimony concerning a multitude of unconventional sexual practices…







  • Govan v Indiana

    In Govan v. State, 913 N.E.2d.237 (Indiana Appeals Court 2009), the defendant (Govan) was convicted of both assault and battery, based on a BDSM incident in which he “punished” the victim (A.H.) by branding her with a hot knife and whipping her with an electrical extension cord.  The appellate court rejected Govan’s argument that A.H.’s consent was a defense to his conduct.  First, it ruled that consent could not be…







  • California v Febrissy

    In this case, the defendant’s lawyer sought to invoke the doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, which held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  That argument was rejected. Click to open California v Febrissy PDF







  • Nebraska v Van

    An argument based on Lawrence v. Texas was rejected in the Nebraska case of State v. Van, 268 Neb.814 (2004).  Van was convicted of first-degree assault on the basis of an extended imprisonment and extremely intense BDSM/torture of a gay male submissive.  The submissive initially consented to practices that were quite intense, but the evidence was in conflict as to whether he later withdrew that consent.  On appeal, defendant Van…







  • Lawrence v Texas

    Lawrence v. Texas, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case for privacy and sexual freedom rights, held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  Attempts to argue Lawrence in appellate cases related to BDSM have been unsuccessful to date.  Click to open Lawrence v Texas PDF







  • New York v Jovanovic

    People v. Jovanovic was a New York case involving an intense scene between a man and a woman who had previously engaged in extensive Internet discussion of their BDSM interests.  The scene apparently went bad, and the woman went to the police.  Mr. Jovanovic was tried and convicted of assault, sexual assault and kidnapping and spent 20 months in prison.  Email correspondence regarding their pre-negotiations was excluded under the rape…







  • Helton v Indiana

    Some cases arising from BDSM incidents have been prosecuted under the criminal charge of battery.  Battery, unlike assault, does not necessarily involve an attack by one person against another.  The crime of battery is injurious touching or striking of one person by another.  Thus, in battery cases, there is an issue as to the context in which the injurious touching or striking occurred.  As the Court of Appeals of Indiana…







  • Iowa v Collier

    In Iowa v. Collier, there were wildly differing accounts given of a BDSM incident, but the judge refused to let the jury consider the question of consent.  The Appellate Court upheld the conviction and ruled that consent was not a defense.  Significantly, the Iowa law on assault was in most ways similar to the Model Penal Code. Provided, that where the person doing any of the above enumerated acts, and…







  • Massachusetts v Appleby

    In most BDSM assault cases, the testimony of a complaining witness (the injured person) is central to the case, and often there is conflict on the issue of consent between the defendant and the complaining witness. However, even where both participants agree that the acts in question were consensual, the courts have held that consent cannot be a defense.  Thus, in Commonwealth v. Appleby, a 1980 Massachusetts case, the court…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal Legal Case
  • California v Samuels

    An early, and typically bad, example of a pure “consent is no defense” ruling is People v Samuels, a 1967 California decision.  In that case, Martin Samuels was convicted of assault based on his conduct in a film of an apparently consensual BDSM scene.  The court not only rejected the consent defense, but also appeared to hold the view that any such consent would be “some form of mental aberration”:…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal consent
  • NEWSBYTES - December 19, 2001

    Net Obscenity Provisions Revocation Sought NEWSBYTES By David McGuire http://www.NEWSBYTES.com December 19, 2001, Washington, DC -- A small civil liberties group has asked a federal judge in New York to revoke what remains of an Internet pornography law that was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. In a complaint filed in a New York City Federal Court [http://www.USCourts.gov ] last week, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom [https://ncsfreedom.org…






    Tags: Media News
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian - January 14, 2002

    Techsploitation By Annalee Newitz San Francisco Bay Guardian, January 14, 2002   HERE'S YET ANOTHER wacky fact you probably didn't know about the Communications Decency Act ole Bill Clinton signed into law way back in 1996: the good citizens of some small town in Arizona or southern California might have the power to send you to jail if they think the contents of your Web site are "obscene." The CDA…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • San Francisco Frontiers - January 23, 2002

    Communications Decency Act A Lingering Coup de Grace? By Tim Kingston   January 23, 2002   You may dimly recall the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which unsuccessfully attempted to define and proscribe "indecency" on the Internet. That law's legal core--its indecency provision--was immediately challenged and rapidly struck down as unconstitutional by free- and electronic-speech advocates. But, what many may not know is that another portion of the law, prohibiting…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - January 2, 2002

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? Part 2   By Judd Handler   Ynot News, January 2, 2002   Last week's editorial featured an interview with John Wirenius, lead counsel for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Barbara Nitke, an adult content photographer. Wirenius, on behalf of the NCSF and Nitke, filed a lawsuit on December 11 against Attorney General John Ashcroft seeking to overturn Internet…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Ynot News - December 20, 2001

    Can David Beat Goliath in the Battle of Obscenity? By Judd Handler   Ynot News, December 20, 2001   One would think it would take the giants of the industry to force the government to rethink existing, not-applicable-to-the-Internet obscenity laws. On the contrary, the little players may be the ones who are successful in getting the federal government and the Supreme Court to throw out irrelevant local community standards when…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Wired - December 12, 2001

    New Suit Targets Obscenity Law By Julia Scheeres Wired, December 12, 2001    A national organization that promotes sexual tolerance and an artist who photographs pictures of couples engaged in sadomasochism filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn Internet obscenity laws. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and photographer Barbara Nitke argue that the obscenity provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is so broad that it violates free speech.…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Spectator Magazine - January 11, 2002

    STANDING UP TO BE COUNTED: BARBARA NITKE CHALLENGES JOHN ASHCROFT ON S/M AND INTERNET OBSCENITY By David Steinberg Spectator Magazine, January 11, 2002 "No matter how we're wired to express love, freedom is having the courage to be who we are." - Photographer/plaintiff Barbara Nitke On December 11, Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom brought suit in New York City's Federal District Court, seeking to have the…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Press - August 28, 2002

    What's Obscene in Podunk By John Strausbaugh New York Press, August 28, 2002   Barbara Nitke is a well-known and much-seen photographer in her field. She's president of the New York Camera Club and teaches a course in darkroom technique at SVA. A nice, neat, sweet individual, she's the very very last person in New York City you'd suspect of being a pornographer. Which she's not, not exactly. She's more…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Newsday - July 25 2005

    New York judges refuse to say Internet obscenity law is unconstitutional By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press Writer, July 25, 2005, 7:58 PM EDT  NEW YORK -- A special three-judge federal panel on Monday refused to find unconstitutional a law making it a crime to send obscenity over the Internet to children. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 had been challenged by Barbara Nitke, a photographer who specializes in pictures of…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • New York Daily News - July 15, 2002

    Fotog vs. Feds in Obscenity Law: Files suit to keep photos on Web by Veronica Vera New York Daily News, July 15, 2002 Photographer Barbara Nitke is used to being behind the lens, but if legal matters heat up, she may soon find the government focusing on her. Nitke is ready to step into the foreground as the chief plantiff in Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • Nerve - December 11, 2001

    Nerve December 11, 2001 Photographer Barbara Nitke and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) filed a lawsuit today, claiming the Internet censorship provision of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) violates the First Amendment right to free speech. The provision stipulates that "local community standards" will judge whether or not something is indecent. Yet attorney John Wirenius argues that "By allowing the most restrictive jurisdiction to define what speech can…






    Tags: Media CDA
  • CNN - December 20, 2001

    Lawsuit targets last scraps of Net-obscenity law By Sam Costello (IDG News) CNN, December 20, 2001 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) and artist Barbara Nitke have filed a lawsuit challenging the remaining provisions of the Communications Decency Act, much of which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. The act, or CDA, was passed in 1996 and was the first U.S. law designed to allow…






    Tags: CDA Media
  • Adult Video News - February, 2002

    NCSF Tackles "Community Standards" For The Web By Mark Kernes Adult Video News, February Issue Washington, DC The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom may not be a household name, even in the adult entertainment industry, but if their recently-filed lawsuit succeeds, they may go down in history as the first group to secure Americans' core constitutional speech rights.  NCSF is based in the nation's capital [~] in fact, only a…






    Tags: Media CDA News
  • ABC News - July 29, 2002

    Love or Obscenity? S/M Photographer Challenges Internet Decency Standards By Dean Schabner ABCnews.com, July 29, 2002 When Barbara Nitke wanted to put her photographs of loving couples on the Internet, she thought she should check into the laws first. That's because Nitke's recent photographs have been focused on how some couples express their love through sado-masochism. What Nitke found after reading up on Internet law and talking to lawyers was…






    Tags: Media CDA
NCSF Newsletters

NCSF Newsletters

A quarterly newsletter produced by the NCSF staff to inform our communities about the important work our coalition is doing.

  • United States, Appellee V. Miles

    March 26, 2014 – Washington DC. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety." Click to open Subject Index, Table of Authorities & Amicus Brief Click to open Miles Motion Click to…





    Written on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 10:11
    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal Legal Case
  • COMMONWEALTH vs. JOHN CAREY

    Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 23, 2007. The cases were tried before Richard E. Welch, III, J. After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review. James L. Sultan for the defendant. Kenneth E. Steinfield, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. CORDY, J. Based on an assault that occurred during the evening of June 6, 2007,…





    Written on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 11:22
    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal
  • Rhode Island v Gasper

    A recent Rhode Island decision, State v. Gaspar, reversed a BDSM assault conviction on evidentiary grounds that related in part to the issue of consent.  While the court did not discuss the issue of consent with any specificity, the decision contains the following assessment of the central issue in the case: The evidence adduced at the trial of this criminal case included testimony concerning a multitude of unconventional sexual practices…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:32

  • Govan v Indiana

    In Govan v. State, 913 N.E.2d.237 (Indiana Appeals Court 2009), the defendant (Govan) was convicted of both assault and battery, based on a BDSM incident in which he “punished” the victim (A.H.) by branding her with a hot knife and whipping her with an electrical extension cord.  The appellate court rejected Govan’s argument that A.H.’s consent was a defense to his conduct.  First, it ruled that consent could not be…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:28

  • California v Febrissy

    In this case, the defendant’s lawyer sought to invoke the doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, which held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  That argument was rejected. Click to open California v Febrissy PDF





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:26

  • Nebraska v Van

    An argument based on Lawrence v. Texas was rejected in the Nebraska case of State v. Van, 268 Neb.814 (2004).  Van was convicted of first-degree assault on the basis of an extended imprisonment and extremely intense BDSM/torture of a gay male submissive.  The submissive initially consented to practices that were quite intense, but the evidence was in conflict as to whether he later withdrew that consent.  On appeal, defendant Van…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:14

  • Lawrence v Texas

    Lawrence v. Texas, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case for privacy and sexual freedom rights, held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  Attempts to argue Lawrence in appellate cases related to BDSM have been unsuccessful to date.  Click to open Lawrence v Texas PDF





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:11

  • New York v Jovanovic

    People v. Jovanovic was a New York case involving an intense scene between a man and a woman who had previously engaged in extensive Internet discussion of their BDSM interests.  The scene apparently went bad, and the woman went to the police.  Mr. Jovanovic was tried and convicted of assault, sexual assault and kidnapping and spent 20 months in prison.  Email correspondence regarding their pre-negotiations was excluded under the rape…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 20:28

  • Helton v Indiana

    Some cases arising from BDSM incidents have been prosecuted under the criminal charge of battery.  Battery, unlike assault, does not necessarily involve an attack by one person against another.  The crime of battery is injurious touching or striking of one person by another.  Thus, in battery cases, there is an issue as to the context in which the injurious touching or striking occurred.  As the Court of Appeals of Indiana…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 20:16

  • Iowa v Collier

    In Iowa v. Collier, there were wildly differing accounts given of a BDSM incident, but the judge refused to let the jury consider the question of consent.  The Appellate Court upheld the conviction and ruled that consent was not a defense.  Significantly, the Iowa law on assault was in most ways similar to the Model Penal Code. Provided, that where the person doing any of the above enumerated acts, and…





    Written on Sunday, 19 February 2012 20:10

Media Activity Reports

Media Activity Reports

Reports about the activities of the NCSF Media Committee.

  • United States, Appellee V. Miles

    March 26, 2014 – Washington DC. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety." Click to open Subject Index, Table of Authorities & Amicus Brief Click to open Miles Motion Click to…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal Legal Case
  • COMMONWEALTH vs. JOHN CAREY

    Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 23, 2007. The cases were tried before Richard E. Welch, III, J. After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review. James L. Sultan for the defendant. Kenneth E. Steinfield, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. CORDY, J. Based on an assault that occurred during the evening of June 6, 2007,…






    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal
  • Rhode Island v Gasper

    A recent Rhode Island decision, State v. Gaspar, reversed a BDSM assault conviction on evidentiary grounds that related in part to the issue of consent.  While the court did not discuss the issue of consent with any specificity, the decision contains the following assessment of the central issue in the case: The evidence adduced at the trial of this criminal case included testimony concerning a multitude of unconventional sexual practices…







  • Govan v Indiana

    In Govan v. State, 913 N.E.2d.237 (Indiana Appeals Court 2009), the defendant (Govan) was convicted of both assault and battery, based on a BDSM incident in which he “punished” the victim (A.H.) by branding her with a hot knife and whipping her with an electrical extension cord.  The appellate court rejected Govan’s argument that A.H.’s consent was a defense to his conduct.  First, it ruled that consent could not be…







  • California v Febrissy

    In this case, the defendant’s lawyer sought to invoke the doctrine enunciated by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, which held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  That argument was rejected. Click to open California v Febrissy PDF







  • Nebraska v Van

    An argument based on Lawrence v. Texas was rejected in the Nebraska case of State v. Van, 268 Neb.814 (2004).  Van was convicted of first-degree assault on the basis of an extended imprisonment and extremely intense BDSM/torture of a gay male submissive.  The submissive initially consented to practices that were quite intense, but the evidence was in conflict as to whether he later withdrew that consent.  On appeal, defendant Van…







  • Lawrence v Texas

    Lawrence v. Texas, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case for privacy and sexual freedom rights, held (in a sodomy prosecution) that, absent a compelling societal interest (and moral disapproval is not such an interest), the government cannot make private consensual sexual activity a crime.  Attempts to argue Lawrence in appellate cases related to BDSM have been unsuccessful to date.  Click to open Lawrence v Texas PDF







  • New York v Jovanovic

    People v. Jovanovic was a New York case involving an intense scene between a man and a woman who had previously engaged in extensive Internet discussion of their BDSM interests.  The scene apparently went bad, and the woman went to the police.  Mr. Jovanovic was tried and convicted of assault, sexual assault and kidnapping and spent 20 months in prison.  Email correspondence regarding their pre-negotiations was excluded under the rape…







  • Helton v Indiana

    Some cases arising from BDSM incidents have been prosecuted under the criminal charge of battery.  Battery, unlike assault, does not necessarily involve an attack by one person against another.  The crime of battery is injurious touching or striking of one person by another.  Thus, in battery cases, there is an issue as to the context in which the injurious touching or striking occurred.  As the Court of Appeals of Indiana…







  • Iowa v Collier

    In Iowa v. Collier, there were wildly differing accounts given of a BDSM incident, but the judge refused to let the jury consider the question of consent.  The Appellate Court upheld the conviction and ruled that consent was not a defense.  Significantly, the Iowa law on assault was in most ways similar to the Model Penal Code. Provided, that where the person doing any of the above enumerated acts, and…







Press Releases

Press Releases

  • United States, Appellee V. Miles

    March 26, 2014 – Washington DC. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety." Click to open Subject Index, Table of Authorities & Amicus Brief Click to open Miles Motion Click to…





    Written on Wednesday, 26 March 2014 10:11
    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal Legal Case
  • NCSF: Moving Forward

    What is the difference between NCSF and the NCSF Foundation?   The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is a 501c4 nonprofit membership organization that advocates for those in the kink and polyamory lifestyles. The Coalition Partners oversee NCSF’s Board of Directors, who in turn run the projects and programs of both organizations. The NCSF Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit charitable organization that educates about BDSM, swinging and polyamory to destigmatize…





    Written on Monday, 10 March 2014 00:56

  • 2013 Advocacy Roundup

    National Coalition for Sexual Freedom 2013 Advocacy Roundup NCSF faced some difficult challenges in 2013, but the dedicated volunteer staff worked hard to advocate for the BDSM, swing and polyamory lifestyles: Kink is Okay                   The biggest news of 2013 was that the American Psychiatric Association depathologized consensual sadism, masochism, cross-dressing and fetishes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). NCSF’s DSM-Revision project began in April…





    Written on Thursday, 06 February 2014 00:52

  • Take the Consent Violations Survey!

    Please take this survey even if you’ve never had a consent violation. We want to know what are your power exchange and sexual identities? Are you “out” about being kinky? How often do you go to BDSM groups and online communities?   NCSF will use these results to help perform its advocacy, such as helping law enforcement, prosecutors and health care professionals understand the experiences of kinky people and provide…





    Written on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 00:47

  • The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and Leather Archives & Museum proudly present: “BDSM? Erotic Play? What Are the Legal Risks?”

    Where: Leather Archives & Museum6418 N. Greenview AvenueChicago, IL 60626 When: Saturday, October 19th from 2:30-5 p.m.followed by awine and cheese reception for the benefit of LA&M and NCSF from 5-7 p.m.Presentation is free of charge.Wine and cheese reception has a suggested donation of $20 and is open to the public.   Program description:You and your BDSM partner may be having a great time, but you need to know about…





    Written on Tuesday, 24 September 2013 00:42

  • The DSM-5 Says Kink is OK!

    The DSM-5 Says Kink is OK!   The American Psychiatric Association has depathologized kinky sex – including cross-dressing, fetishes, and BDSM – in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Now the paraphilias are considered to be “unusual sexual interests,” while those who have sex with children or people who haven’t consented, or who deliberately cause harm to themselves or others, may be diagnosed with a…





    Written on Saturday, 22 June 2013 00:32
    Tags: DSM
  • NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit

    NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit   The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Phoenix, Arizona from February 8-10, 2013. The Consent Summit took place Friday evening, and Coalition Partners were able to participate via streaming video to give their input on the new Consent Statement. Go to www.ncsfreedom.org to see the Consent Statement and comment on it.   “The Consent Statement…





    Written on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 00:22
    Tags: Consent_Counts
  • Office Fire Fundraiser

    Our Office Burned! We need YOUR help February 13, 2013 – The NCSF office in Baltimore, MD, was destroyed in a fire a few weeks ago. We’ve lost everything: computer, office supplies and furnishings, tee shirts, and all of our stored printed literature are gone.    Please donate to the NCSF Fire Recovery Fund drive:   https://www.wepay.com/donations/ncsf-fire-recovery-fund      Donations are tax deductible! In order to continue helping the BDSM-leather-fetish, swing…





    Written on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 00:15

  • COMMONWEALTH vs. JOHN CAREY

    Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 23, 2007. The cases were tried before Richard E. Welch, III, J. After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review. James L. Sultan for the defendant. Kenneth E. Steinfield, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. CORDY, J. Based on an assault that occurred during the evening of June 6, 2007,…





    Written on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 11:22
    Tags: Consent_Counts Legal
  • NCSF Survey on Consent

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom NCSF Survey on Consent The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) wants to hear from you! Please take our Consent Counts survey and tell us what you think about consent: www.ncsfreedom.org/survey.html As part of decriminalizing BDSM in the legal codes, we need to be able to articulate a clear definition of consent that the BDSM communities believe in. The results of this…





    Written on Monday, 09 July 2012 10:19
    Tags: Survey Consent Counts consent fetlife

Support this program!

Media Outreach: We're Making a Difference

  • NCSF has successfully changed the discussion in the media by debunking stereotypes about BDSM, swinging, and polyamory
  • NCFS has developed a strong media outreach and training program for its coalition, supporting, and other partners.
  • NCSF has successfully become through dedicated advocacy, the leading media authority on BDSM, swinging, and polyamory

 

About Media Outreach

The Media Outreach Program is designed to reach outward to educate media and respond to media stories about alternative sex. In addition it is designed to reach inward to our own constituents to teach and train them in how to respond and deal with media effectively.

Program Goals:
The goal of the goal of the Media Outreach Program is to change the public discussion about alternative sexuality and to educate and support our members when they have occasion to deal with the media.
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