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"Crown ‘ups the ante’ with overcoming resistance by choking charges against Ghomeshi"

on Thursday, 27 November 2014. Hits 290

The Globe and Mail

by Sean Fine

By charging Jian Ghomeshi with a single count of “overcome resistance – choking” on top of four counts of sexual assault, the Crown has signalled that it intends to seek a long penitentiary sentence if Mr. Ghomeshi is convicted, legal observers say.

“It ups the ante for sure,” Ottawa defence lawyer Paul Lewandowski said. “It’s a beacon of the severity of the charges.”

The maximum penalty for overcoming resistance by choking to commit an indictable offence is life in prison, while the maximum for sexual assault is 10 years. Not often used, the charge of overcoming resistance by choking for the purpose of committing another offence was written into Canada’s original Criminal Code in 1892, and until 1972, whipping was one of the prescribed punishments, Osgoode Hall law professor Benjamin Berger said.

“It is very much like [a charge of] attempt murder except the Crown doesn’t have to prove the intent to cause death,” Calgary defence lawyer Lisa Silver said.

She said the Crown, which would have participated in discussions with Toronto police before police charged Mr. Ghomeshi, probably had tactical reasons for choosing that charge. Other options in a sexual-assault case are to lay a charge of sexual assault causing bodily harm, or aggravated assault; both carry a maximum of 14 years in prison.

“Why didn’t they charge bodily harm? It’s hard to prove. There’s a whole area of case law. There’s also the issue of whether two consenting adults in a sexual relationship can consent to bodily harm. If it’s not sexual assault, you can consent to bodily harm but it hasn’t been completely decided for sexual [assault]. So the Crown is trying to get away from the tough issues, yet still have the ability to show that these charges are serious and that they will be asking for a large penitentiary sentence if he gets convicted.”

Mr. Lewandowski said that a cross-examination of someone who alleges she was choked would be tricky, unless there were e-mails or other evidence that the person consented to be choked. “The lawyer will say, ‘that was one of your fantasies.’ But if none of those collateral sources [of evidence] are available, you’ll be stuck with her answers – ‘that’s not something I asked for. It was completely unprovoked.’”

Overcoming resistance by choking is an offence of specific intent, meaning the Crown would have to prove it was done for the purpose of committing a serious offence such as sexual assault, Mr. Lewandowski said. Sexual assault is a general intent offence, requiring that the Crown prove unwanted touching of a sexual nature.

He estimated the case would take a year or two to reach trial.

NCSF’s Kink Aware Professionals joins forces with GayLawNet

on Tuesday, 25 November 2014. Hits 389

NCSF has expanded the reach of its Kink Aware Professionals by collaborating with GayLawNet, which now offers a way for lawyers in their database to self-identify as Kink Aware Professionals:

gaylawnet.com/attorneys/ussolc.html

 

“Whenever someone can’t find a lawyer in NCSF’s KAP list, I always refer them to GayLawNet,” says Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. “Many of their gay-friendly lawyers are eager to work with kinky people, and the GayLawNet database is huge.”

 

NCSF recently started an outreach campaign to the lawyers who have listed themselves on GayLawNet to let them know they can also list themselves on NCSF’s Kink Aware Professionals list:

https://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/kink-aware-professionals/kap-program-page.html

 

“GayLawNet has been actively supporting the LGBTIQ community worldwide since the beginning of 1996,” says retired lawyer David Allan, founder of GayLawNet. "This new association with the NCSF is a further development enabling those with diverse expressions of sexuality to obtain sensitive professional advice concerning their legal rights and responsibilities. With recent substantial changes to matrimonial law across the US, those in relationships would be well advised to ensure that they have in place all the necessary legal protections to secure their family's future.”

 

The KAP referral database is the most-visited resource on NCSFreedom.org, and NCSF is dedicated to growing and improving this list. If you know a professional who is kink-aware or kink-friendly, please suggest they sign up on the Kink Aware Professionals list:

https://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/kink-aware-professionals/becoming-a-kap-professional.html

Guest Blog: Out To The Doctor?

on Monday, 24 November 2014. Hits 805

By Barak

AdventuresinSexuality.org

 

So there you are, in the semi-private exam room at your Doctor’s office or the Emergency Room, or any other patient care access point... and it’s time to be seen.. The nurse has taken your vitals, checked some general questions, and before leaving the room, asks you to get into a gown. You have removed your clothing and have fitted the stylish blue plaid garment as best is possible. The rough material slides over your front, and you get a sore twinge from those nipple clamps you were wearing last night. Images begin to form in your head, as you reminisce about that fantastic scene from last night and your pulse increases slightly. The door opens, and as the doctor walks in you blanch recalling the purple mosaic of bruises you saw reflected in the mirror this am.

What is the Doctor going to think? Will they turn you in? Will they throw you out? Can you get a straightjacket out of this? What do you say? How do you handle it? Do you tell the truth?

Let’s chat about this one. I have been in healthcare, as a Nurse or a Paramedic, for over 20 years. I have worked in Home Health, in Doctor’s Offices, Psych centers, and at busy ERs and have seen almost everything. Really. I can tell you stories from decades ago about things stuck in places… But, let’s save that for a fun night at a Meet N Greet, and get to some real discussion for now.

I will start off by introducing you to something called The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. If you read through this Act, you will find that a Doctor, nurse or other healthcare providers (HCPs) can only release records or information that is specific to you or could identify you in any way, if it pertains directly to your care or billing. That’s it. If this info in shared in any other way? That is illegal and prosecutable. It’s actually very serious in the medical field.

The HIPAA laws prevent HCPs from even disclosing immediate family info. For instance? Let’s say Sheba was in the hospital for testing. Let’s also say that I was working for this same facility and had access to the computer systems. Even if she asks me to, it is illegal for me to access her records. Why? Because I am not on her care team and thereby don’t have a “legitimate” reason for taking a peek.

Where are we going with this? Because this law essentially covers Doctor / Patient confidentiality rules. However, there are a couple loopholes that you may want to be aware of. If a Doctor or other HCP feels that there is some form of danger, like you are being threatened, abused, harmed, etc. They are Mandated Reporters. Meaning, if they feel there is that type of issue, they can legally disclose information to Law Enforcement investigators. But this is for your protection.

Now that you are aware of those pieces, we can continue. What is my advice? I always encourage honesty. If you are hurt, or there is something wrong? Be frank and honest about it. Don’t try to make something up that “might” fit what happened.

Let’s say you had a shoulder injury during a rope scene. There are certain things you might leave out, but make sure you don’t leave anything out that contributed to the injury. For instance, while Kinksters may love the terms, "Tied up and fucked," "BDSM," “Rape Scene,” etc... There is no reason to try and bait them by playing, “Shock the Doc.” In situations like this, discretion is the better part of valor. Take time and amend possible inflammatory terms. HCPs are fine with the terms, "Kinky Sex." "I like it a little rough," “Creative Sexual expression,” etc..

Depending on what you were actually doing, you may not have to get into that discussion at all. For instance, if you were doing suspension work you might just let them know you were "experimenting with Rope," and "were being held off the ground by rope around your arm, shoulder, etc..." when you felt XYZ or however it happened. Meaning, you don't have to get into why you were suspended, other than you were playing around with Rope.

Either way, you should always be honest about the how it happened. There is really no reason to get into the why most of the time. ya know? As HCPs, we are very adept at understanding the way the human body looks, acts, and works. We are also aware about the mechanics of damage, trauma and wounds. We have spent years listening to stories, comparing injuries, and calculating facts. We have a very finely tuned intuition, so if something feels out of place? We investigate much more fully.

Just know that even if you are completely honest, you may get a visit from the friendly facility social worker. They may verify that everything is on the up and up, that your participation is consensual, and there is not any abuse going on. However, if the HCPs feel as though you are hiding something, deliberately baiting them, or trying to get a reaction, it may mildly irritate or it may really piss em off. Not a great idea, as they can certainly cause problems for you. If you set off their red flags, there is a good chance it will turn into much more of an inquiry that could involve people with a different looking uniforms and badges.

If you are with your partner? Make sure you are on the same page, and don’t become resentful if they separate you. They just want to make sure this is not domestic violence. So, smile alot, and make sure you both have the exact same story. One of the best stories? Is the one where you shyly admit you like being tied up, and your partner was trying to accommodate you.

Furthermore, if the reason you are at the doctor’s has nothing to do with the bruises on your ass & thighs? Just smile knowingly and say, “It’s consensual, I like it rough.” Then bring them back to the subject at hand, like the sore throat and cough symptoms you are having. If they bring you back to it? Just be factual and direct. Take a “nothing to see here,” attitude.

What to do? Should you come out to your Doctor? In the end that is up to you. However, as I have said, we have seen a lot. I can assure you that handprints don’t look like something accidental. Whip, flogger and cane marks? Hello! Your best bet is to be honest and straightforward. If you can’t or won’t come out to your HCP? Then either make sure you don’t have marks, don’t get injured, or just find another HCP you are willing to share with. It’s your health and your choice.

 

International Media Update: "National Taiwan University delivers blow to kinky bondage club"

on Monday, 24 November 2014. Hits 305

The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's top university took the dominant role this past Wednesday when it gave a firm “no” to students who wanted to start a school-sanctioned club centered on BDSM, the broad range of erotic practices mostly identified with bondage and dominance role-play.

A committee made up of students, teachers and administrators at National Taiwan University convened that day to hear proposals for new student groups, but hopes for a BDSM-centric club soon unraveled when it only managed to harness support from six of 17 committee members.

The case has gained national media attention in the days since because of preconceptions shackled to BDSM practices and the clashing images of people tying themselves up in rope and chains for pleasure against the archetype of the “guai guai” (well behaved) NTU student.

The president of the still unendorsed BDSM Club, who calls himself Lisa Lu, said that while NTU may be the first Taiwanese school to try to set up a society for ropes and role-play, it is not unprecedented at other distinguished institutions on top of the academic world.

“There don't seem to be any others (in Taiwan),” Lu told CNA. “But as for schools abroad, I have learned that Harvard has an S&M student group on campus.”

Harvard gave approval its local BDSM society in 2012, but it's far from the only university to do so. Iowa State University established a bondage club called Cuffs back in 2003, and Conversio Virium at Columbia University, established 1994, claims to be the oldest student-led bondage education group in the United States.

What all these student clubs have in common is offering a safe, welcoming environment for people practicing or interested in exploring BDSM culture. Lu's is no exception.

“It's not easy to talk about this in society as BDSM is still a taboo issue, and we face the pressure of being harassed. We want to create a place for people in this culture to meet up and work together to build their respective senses of identity,” he said.

“Our aim is to explore the diversity of eroticism through academic discussion and practice,” he said.

It's the practice part that has caused friction and made some uncomfortable, even though Lu said that only makes up “about one-fourth” of the mostly academic agenda and operates on a strict policy of informed consent. ...

"Dishes, Dinner, & Sex"

on Thursday, 20 November 2014. Hits 329

The well-organized home life of a polyamorous Springfield family

Valley Advocate

 

Glance at Michelle, Aimee, Micah and Ian on the street and you might assume they’re two straight couples — or two gay couples. But they’re all going home together.

That home is a large, sunny house in the Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield. It’s where this group of four polyamorous partners — a “quad’” — live, laugh, eat and sleep under one roof.

These four adults are intimately connected to each other, but they’re also open to new flings and encounters. And so they face an unusual challenge: running a communal household while tending to the myriad romantic relationships that hold the four of them — and their lovers — together.

“It’s structured chaos,” says Michelle. “But we’ve maintained it for years now because we come together and talk about how things are playing out.”

 

For years, the four of them slept together on a queen-size and a king-size bed pushed together. But it’s not the hedonistic free-for-all some might imagine.

Having kids, for example, changed everything. When Aimee and Micah had their son Connor, the two beds came apart. Aimee and Micah slept alongside the crib, while Michelle and Ian — both light sleepers — moved to a different room.

But kids weren’t the only complicating factor. “Polyamory” in Latin means “many loves,” but a polyamorous household also features a surprising amount of scheduling, financial planning and debate.

For daily logistics, they use a Google Calendar and a family email list. They also share a bank account, which they discuss at quarterly finance meetings. These are Type-A people, professional and well-organized.

Michelle Driscoll, 35, works in human resources in Northampton. She is married to Aimee Bouchard, 34, a lawyer in private practice. Each also has a deep relationship with one of the two men in the house: Aimee with Micah Schneider, 43, a Springfield math instructor, and Michelle with Ian Rose, 44, who works a corporate job in Hartford. And there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind: the kids have four parents, not two.

Just ask Connor. Micah is “Bubba.” Ian is “Daddy.” Aimee is “Mama.” Michelle is “Mama Too.” And at the most recent parent-teacher night at Connor’s school, the four of them showed up together.

Many poly people are straight, but all members of this quad identify as bisexual. Legally, Michelle and Aimee are the two spouses. But all four are committed to each other. “I think of the quad as a single relationship that contains a lot of inter-relationships,” says Ian. ...

"Are Unconventional Sexual and Romantic Relationships Becoming More Mainstream?"

on Thursday, 20 November 2014. Hits 355

Huffington Post

by Douglas LaBier

 

A recent Pew poll found that millennials have a steadily declining rate of marriage. There are several possible reasons for this, but I think it highlights a broader, changing reality: We're in the midst of a social and cultural evolution regarding the kinds of romantic, sexual and intimate relationships men and women seek and what they experience as fulfilling.

Some forms of this shift that I describe below trigger knee-jerk, negative reactions from those who see their own moral standards and beliefs as being threatened or under attack. However, I think it's important to understand these emerging forms of relationship with an open mind to understand how and why some people may find them fulfilling and positive. Keep in mind that much of our thinking in psychology and mental health has evolved. For example, women's menstrual "blues" and homosexuality were once defined as forms of mental illness, but no longer are.

Today, interracial marriage is no longer illegal, as it was for most of the previous century. LGBT relationships have moved past the threshold of acceptance by a majority of the population. And currently, we see emerging shifts towards what some define as desirable and healthy intimate partnerships, for themselves. For example:

Polyamory: The subject of an annual conference, polyamory relationships are those in which people have multiple partnerships at once with the full knowledge of all involved. A comprehensive report in LiveScience describes how jealousy works in polyamorous relationships, how children in polyamorous families experience them. It also explores several other new findings, including that some polyamorous people report feeling energized by their multiple relationships and say that good feelings in one translate to good feelings in others.

Open relationships: A variant of polyamory, open relationships received some attention in the 1970s among young baby boomers (e.g. the 1969 movie "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice") and looks like it's re-emerging in new form -- now called consensually non-monogamous (CNM) relationships. In them, committed partners mutually agree not to be sexually and/or romantically exclusive to one another. Some recent research finds, for example, that up to 40 percent of men and up to 25 percent of women in a monogamous relationship said they would switch to a CNM if they lived in a world where everyone had open relationships. Currently, the research finds a continuum: some people are completely monogamous, others are completely nonmonogamous, and many more are somewhere in between. ...

"Mom of Disabled Girl Awarded $638K in Sadomasochism Case"

on Wednesday, 19 November 2014. Hits 240

NBC Connecticut

A Connecticut jury has awarded about $638,000 to a Greenwich woman who sued a man she alleged had a sadomasochistic sexual relationship with her mentally ill and disabled daughter.

The Stamford Superior Court jury returned the verdict Thursday in favor of Mary Kortner, who said her daughter, Caroline Kendall Kortner, could not have consented to an abusive sexual relationship with Greenwich resident Craig Martise because of her mental state.

Caroline Kendall Kortner died from an undisclosed illness at age 39 in 2010, seven years after her relationship with Martise.

Martise said he did nothing wrong and the relationship was consensual. A jury found in his favor in 2009, but the state Supreme Court overturned the verdict in June.

Martise and his lawyer didn't immediately return messages Tuesday.

"Mishandling Rape"

on Monday, 17 November 2014. Hits 204

The NY Times

OUR strategy for dealing with rape on college campuses has failed abysmally. Female students are raped in appalling numbers, and their rapists almost invariably go free. Forced by the federal government, colleges have now gotten into the business of conducting rape trials, but they are not competent to handle this job. They are simultaneously failing to punish rapists adequately and branding students sexual assailants when no sexual assault occurred.

We have to transform our approach to campus rape to get at the root problems, which the new college processes ignore and arguably even exacerbate.

How many rapes occur on our campuses is disputed. The best, most carefully controlled study was conducted for the Department of Justice in 2007; it found that about one in 10 undergraduate women had been raped at college.

But because of low arrest and conviction rates, lack of confidentiality, and fear they won’t be believed, only a minuscule percentage of college women who are raped — perhaps only 5 percent or less — report the assault to the police. Research suggests that more than 90 percent of campus rapes are committed by a relatively small percentage of college men — possibly as few as 4 percent — who rape repeatedly, averaging six victims each. Yet these serial rapists overwhelmingly remain at large, escaping serious punishment.

Against this background, the federal government in 2011 mandated a ramped-up sexual assault adjudication process at American colleges, presumably believing that campuses could respond more aggressively than the criminal justice system. So now colleges are conducting trials, often presided over by professors and administrators who know little about law or criminal investigations. At one college last year, the director of a campus bookstore served as a panelist. The process is inherently unreliable and error-prone.

At Columbia University and Barnard College, more than 20 students have filed complaints against the school for mishandling and rejecting their sexual assault claims. But at Vassar College, Duke University, The University of Michigan and elsewhere, male students who claim innocence have sued because they were found guilty. Mistaken findings of guilt are a real possibility because the federal government is forcing schools to use a lowered evidentiary standard — the “more likely than not” standard, which is much less exacting than criminal law’s “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement — at their rape trials. At Harvard, 28 law professors recently condemned the university’s new sexual assault procedures for lacking “the most basic elements of fairness and due process” and for being “overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”

Is the answer, then, as conservatives argue, deregulation — getting the government off the universities’ backs? Is it, as the Harvard law professors suggest, strengthening procedural protections for the accused?

Neither strategy would get to the true problems: rapists going unpunished, the heady mixture of sex and alcohol on college campuses, and the ways in which colleges are expanding the concept of sexual assault to change its basic meaning.

Consider the illogical message many schools are sending their students about drinking and having sex: that intercourse with someone “under the influence” of alcohol is always rape. Typical is this warning on a joint Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith website: “Agreement given while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is not considered consent”; “if you have not consented to sexual intercourse, it is rape.” ...

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