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"Pennsylvania court rules that father should not have been deprived of custody based on his past polyamorous relationship"

on Tuesday, 09 October 2012. Hits 1715

Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage

A Pennsylvania appeals court has overturned a trial court order giving custody of two children to their maternal grandparents rather than their father.  The trial court penalized the father for his past polyamorous relationship.  The case, V.C. and C.B. v. J.E.B. and C.C., is the first one I can remember using the phrase "polyamory" or discussing the practice without prejudgment.

The father, C.C., and the mother, J.E.B., never married.  The two resided with the mother's husband, and the three had a polyamorous relationship.  In June 2007, when the children, A.B. and Z.B., were approximately two and three years old, the older child sustained a spiral fracture to her leg, prompting an abuse investigation by the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services.  While the investigation was pending, the children were placed with the mother's parents.  Although the agency determined there was no abuse in about six months, the children remained with their grandparents another nine months, until September 2008.

Sometime in 2007, another woman joined the polyamorous relationship.  The father married that woman and had a daughter with her.  When A.B. and Z.B. returned to their parents, they lived with all four adults until the four-way polyamorous relationship ended and the father and his wife moved to an adjoining apartment in the same building and, in April 2010, to a new home, still walking distance from the mother's home.  The mother and father shared legal custody, rotated physical custody, and gave the grandparents partial custody (otherwise known as visitation) on alternating weekends.

In February 2011, the grandparents filed a petition that either they or the mother receive primary custody.  This prompted the father to file for shared legal custody with the mother and primary physical custody with him, and for the mother to request primary physical custody with her.  After a December 2011 trial, the judge awarded primary physical custody and sole legal custody to the grandparents, with two non-consecutive days of visitation to the mother and the father monthly.

The father appealed.  (The mother did not file an appeal but she did file a brief asking that the trial court order be overturned.)  The appeals court emphasized the high burden of proof on the grandparents.  In fact, this case reminded me of several cases in the 1970 and 80s in which lesbian mothers lost custody to their own parents, the children's paternal grandparents, or other relatives. (The most publicized such case actually happened in the early 1990s, when Sharon Bottoms lost custody of her son Tyler to her mother....More on another similarity to that case later).  The court said the grandparents needed overcome by clear and convincing evidence the presumption in favor of the father, and that the trial court was wrong to find they had sustained that burden.

The appeals court said the judge interjected "artificial morality concerns" into its determination, something not permitted by the list of factors in the custody statute.  Although the trial judge claimed otherwise, the appeals court found that the judge's "general disfavor of polyamory" played a role in the decision.  At the time of the trial the father was no longer in a polyamorous relationship.  They appeals court noted that "while ultimately unsuccessful, his former experimentation with that lifestyle did not harm the children and does not currently affect the children negatively."  The appeals court called polyamory "a nontraditional sexual practice," but considered it analogous to other cases in which a parent's previous sexual conduct was found irrelevant absent evidence of harm to the child.

Sex figured into this case in another way.  The trial court considered the father's wife's friendship with a professional dominatrix and her blog post in which she described herself as a "closet poly."  The appeals court found that "the trial court's preoccupation with these morality issues is improper, particularly where, as here, there is a dearth of evidence to suggest that the sexual practices affected the children at all." ...

"Bagley attorney wants sex evidence excluded"

on Monday, 08 October 2012. Hits 500

SF Chronicle

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The details of consensual sex that occurred between a man and his wife should not be used as evidence that the man sexually abuses women, a defense attorney in a southwest Missouri sex slave case said in court documents filed this week.

Susan Dill, attorney for Edward Bagley, filed a motion Monday asking U.S. Magistrate Richard Larsen to preclude the government's use of evidence regarding consensual sex between Bagley and his co-defendant wife, Marilyn.

"Because the government will allege these are bad acts committed against Marilyn, it will cast Edward Bagley as a bad actor and Marilyn Bagley incorrectly as a victim," Dill wrote.

Ed Bagley, 45, and Marilyn Bagley, 47, are scheduled to stand trial in February on several charges, including sex trafficking, forced labor trafficking, document servitude and use of an interstate facility to facilitate unlawful activity. The charges involve a woman who prosecutors say was 16 years old when she moved into the couple's trailer near Lebanon, Mo., in 2002 and was forced to be Ed Bagley's sex slave.

He is accused of giving her drugs, sexually abusing her while she was a minor and torturing her after she turned 18.

The Bagleys claim the woman came to them and asked to be part of their kinky lifestyle, while the government says Ed Bagley started grooming the woman to be his sex slave while she was still a minor, which would be illegal.

In August, prosecutors filed a motion indicating they plan to introduce evidence of "sadistic sexual assaults" committed by Bagley against his wife. While acknowledging those sex acts were consensual, prosecutors cited Missouri law that says consent is not a defense against abuse when serious bodily injury is involved.

The Bagleys were involved in bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, or BDSM, in which extreme or even bizarre sex acts are part of the lifestyle. Federal prosecutors contend many of the acts amount to torture, especially when performed on the girl.

The case is being closely watched by BDSM advocates, who argue that the government has no business telling people what they can do in their bedrooms, no matter how shocking some of the acts may be to non-practitioners. ...

"Lebanon sex slave case concerns Ozarkers who practice BDSM"

on Saturday, 06 October 2012. Hits 1275

Prosecutors plan to use Ed Bagley's consensual sex acts against his own wife as evidence that he abused women.

KSPR ABC News

A federal court case against a man from Lebanon gravely concerns those who practice an alternative sexual lifestyle nationwide and here in the Ozarks.

Ed Bagley is charged with 11 counts of abuse against a woman whom police say he made his sex slave.  The prosecutor wants to show Bagley had a history of abusing women by bringing up Bagley's sex life with his own wife.

The Bagleys practice something called BDSM, short for bondage, discipline and sadomasichism.   Locals in that lifestyle say what they do is pleasurable, not criminal.

A man whom we'll call Bill tours the country giving presentations on BDSM.  Yet, here in the Ozarks, he won't show his face.

"If they don't know, then they're scared of it," he said on Thursday.

Bill says what they don't know is there is an underground network of sadomasichists called dominants and submissives, or masters and slaves, right here in middle America.  We're just slow to accept it, he says.

"Most conventions they have in big cities, we'll have anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 people at those conventions," Bill said.

The group that he ran in Springfield for more than two decades had, at its peak, 500 members and a private dungeon.  They played with devices like whips, floggers, cuffs, and ropes.  Bill says they played safely.

"That is why we basically set up the club we started, so people would learn what they should do, shouldn't do, their rights, how to play with somebody because there are certain parts of the body you touch that can be very dangerous.  We taught them how to slowly build a person up so that they could play a little harder.  We taught the submissives how to recognize when somebody is doing something wrong and they could say 'back it off, that's not what I want,'" Bill said.

He and other advocates and practitioners of BDSM are concerned the case from Lebanon that calls into question the defendant's kinky sex acts with his own wife will criminalize their lifestyle.

"It means that everybody who is kinky right now and doing any sort of those bedroom activities, it means those things could be used against them as some sort of evidence of assault if they get involved in a case like this," said Susan Wright with Baltimore-based National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Wright says it means fear.  Fear of persecution is what keeps Bill's face in the shadows but fear of criminalization could do worse.

"Strictly somebody brand new or wanting to know something about it, then it would scare them," he said.

Even though BDSM is growing in popularity, Bill says the single thing that's helped the BDSM community most is the internet, because it's been an easy and private way for those interested to learn about the lifestyle.

See the video...

"No grey area when it comes to fans of E.L. James"

on Thursday, 04 October 2012. Hits 1198

The Greenwich Citizen

Anyone who aspires to be a novelist has got to wonder at the success of E. L. James, the author of the "Fifty Shades" trilogy that has sat at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for nearly two months and sold more than 30 million books.

This middle-aged, middle class mother of two teenagers who lives in an attached house in West London has written a love story you wouldn't want your teenager to read about a college student's attraction to a 27-year-old billionaire (Christian Grey) with decidedly BDSM proclivities.

Local demand for the book is evident in the multiple, ongoing requests for the many copies of the book that Greenwich Library has. (Surely the fact that the library has invested in so many copies is testament to how far we've come in intellectual freedom.)

When a rash of articles began appearing in the New York press recently about a new wave of single girls from Manhattan frequenting high-end Greenwich bars in search of rising hedge funders with McMansions, Ferraris, private planes and helicopters, I began to wonder if they weren't all looking for a Christian Grey.

I've found myself in certain settings asking hip young women what they think of "Fifty Shades," and their response is immediate: "We are so grateful to E.L. James for writing these books! They are the fantasy we need!"

Some said they know married couples that read the books aloud to each other to reenergize their sex lives. A recent e-mail at work had the subject line, "Fifty Shades Baby Boom." The content was a fertility counseling firm, reporting, "Many couples are turning to these steamy novels in efforts to have children and take the stress and struggle out of it."

And now those couples can add a musical component to the written work with E.L. James's new CD . . . "Fifty Shades of Grey - The Classical Album," . . . made up of selections (including Bach, Chopin, and Debussy) she listened to while writing her books -- to best drown out the noise of her teen aged sons.

Interviewed at the recent Manhattan release of her CD, James threw off one of her rare and offhand remarks on the state of her success. "It's nice," she said, "that people who don't normally listen to classical music are listening to classical music -- and that people who normally don't read are reading."...

"Is Missouri couple’s ’50 Shades of Grey’ lifestyle a crime?"

on Wednesday, 03 October 2012. Hits 537

Washington Post

Kinky has gone mainstream with the popularity of the “50 Shades of Grey” trilogy as sales of sex toys have skyrocketed. But there’s a fine line between kinky and criminal – and it’s called consent.

That important distinction may get lost with a federal court case in Kansas City that would make criminals of Christian Grey, the fictional hero of “50 Shades of Grey,” and real-life followers of the BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Domination/Submission, Sadism/Masochism) lifestyle.

Defense attorney Susan Dill has filed a motion to keep the private bedroom behavior of Edward Bagley Sr., 45, and his wife Marilyn, 47, out of court in his upcoming federal case. The couple, from Lebanon, a small town in southern Missouri, admit to what many would consider violent sexual habits (pierced genitalia and flogging, anyone?), but both say it’s consensual.

The U.S. attorney’s office claims that Bagley’s sexual activities with his wife constitute a history of sexual assault, despite its consensual nature, and that it should be admissible as evidence in its case accusing Bagley of grooming a young woman as a sex slave and holding her against her will.

Bagley has been charged with multiple counts that include sex trafficking, and if convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison. His wife has also been charged, and so have four men who are associates of the couple.

But Dill is not convinced. “Edward Bagley is one of the few clients I have had in my career as a defense attorney that I truly believe is not guilty,” Dill told me. (She represents Bagley, while another Kansas City attorney is Mrs. Bagley’s defense lawyer.)

Dill’s motion to the court to prevent the admission of the couples’ sexual activities lists 10 categories of behavior with explanations as to why each is not assault. In the discussion of “binding,” Dill wrote, “Edward Bagley takes care to position the ropes and bindings carefully to avoid inflicting injury on his wife.”

For another activity, Dill pointed out, “In fact, the videos depict Marilyn clearly enjoying (it).”

Dill also mentions the “prejudicial” nature of such evidence – let’s face it, there’s a serious “ick” factor for a lot of people – and that the 14th Amendment allows behavior in the bedroom to remain private (Lawrence v. Texas struck down sodomy laws, for example).

Although Dill could not reveal details about the case, an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which included interviews with Marilyn Bagley and several residents of Lebanon, tells the story of a young woman, possibly mentally deficient, with a troubled past who moved in with the Bagleys in 2002.

Known in court documents only as FV, or female victim, she eventually posed for a photo shoot in Los Angeles for Hustler’s Taboo magazine,  worked as a stripper in a local club in Lebanon and got involved in violent sexual activities.

Was it her choice? Or was she sex slave to Bagley?

According to many of those interviewed for the Post-Dispatch, she chose to engage in those activities. But according to the findings of a grand jury, she was held against her will, tortured and sexually assaulted repeatedly; a former U.S. attorney called it “horrific.”

After “FV” suffered a heart attack in 2009 at age 23, law enforcement became involved.

Whether Bagley is guilty or not is up to a jury to decide in February.

Of more immediate concern to the BDSM community is the idea that consensual kinky sex could be considered a crime, which would be the case if the Bagleys’ sexual history is used as evidence of assault, said Susan Wright, a spokesperson for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom in Baltimore.

“It could retroactively criminalize consensual behavior,” Dill said.

Consent is considered a defense against assault unless “serious bodily injury” occurs. But what constitutes “serious bodily injury” is open to argument, Wright said. “The courts have found it’s the use of a riding crop and use of candle wax, and those sorts of things don’t cause serious injury.” ...

"Attorney wants evidence excluded in sex slave case"

on Wednesday, 03 October 2012. Hits 613

Kansas City Star

The details of consensual sex that occurred between a man and his wife should not be used as evidence that the man sexually abuses women, a defense attorney in a southwest Missouri sex slave case said in court documents filed this week.

Susan Dill, attorney for Edward Bagley, filed a motion Monday asking U.S. Magistrate Richard Larsen to preclude the government's use of evidence regarding consensual sex between Bagley and his co-defendant wife, Marilyn.

"Because the government will allege these are bad acts committed against Marilyn, it will cast Edward Bagley as a bad actor and Marilyn Bagley incorrectly as a victim," Dill wrote.

Ed Bagley, 45, and Marilyn Bagley, 47, are scheduled to stand trial in February on several charges, including sex trafficking, forced labor trafficking, document servitude and use of an interstate facility to facilitate unlawful activity. The charges involve a woman who prosecutors say was 16 years old when she moved into the couple's trailer near Lebanon, Mo., in 2002 and was forced to be Ed Bagley's sex slave.

He is accused of giving her drugs, sexually abusing her while she was a minor and torturing her after she turned 18.

The Bagleys claim the woman came to them and asked to be part of their kinky lifestyle, while the government says Ed Bagley started grooming the woman to be his sex slave while she was still a minor, which would be illegal.

In August, prosecutors filed a motion indicating they plan to introduce evidence of "sadistic sexual assaults" committed by Bagley against his wife. While acknowledging those sex acts were consensual, prosecutors cited Missouri law that says consent is not a defense against abuse when serious bodily injury is involved.

The Bagleys were involved in bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism, or BDSM, in which extreme or even bizarre sex acts are part of the lifestyle. Federal prosecutors contend many of the acts amount to torture, especially when performed on the girl.

The case is being closely watched by BDSM advocates, who argue that the government has no business telling people what they can do in their bedrooms, no matter how shocking some of the acts may be to non-practitioners.

"The government must stay out of the bedrooms (and all other private places) of mutually consenting adults, no matter how violent or shocking the activity," said John Katz, a Silver Spring, Md., defense attorney whose law office specializes in sexual freedom issues. "Lawrence v. Texas underlines that the government may not penalize consensual sodomy between adults, no matter how much such activity offends many people on religious grounds. Once we let government restrict our neighbors' sexual activity, it is just a matter of time before government sticks its nose further into our otherwise private lives." ...


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/10/02/3844396/attorney-wants-evidence-excluded.html#storylink=cpy

"BDSM Advocates Worry About 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Sex"

on Wednesday, 03 October 2012. Hits 1170

ABC News

Robert Dunlap, a certified sex educator from California, gets three or four requests a day from couples expressing an interest in and even seeking coaching for the latest trend in kink -- BDSM, an overlapping acronym for bondage and discipline; dominance and submission; sadism and masochism.

"It's such an explosion," said Dunlap, co-founder of the online site, Sex Coach University. "It's happening now because of the book."

The book, E.L. James' trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey," has sold 32 million copies since its e-publication earlier this year and spawned the new cultural phenomenon.

"It's absolutely been astounding how many students we get inquiries from on a daily basis," he said. Dunlap is also getting requests from sex educators to learn proper coaching in the practice.

Devotees say that even though the popularity of the book "normalizes" what used to be a fringe sexual practice, they worry that a piece of fiction gives BDSM a "bad" name.

"On the one hand if you are looking at it as a formulaic romance novel, it fits the formula perfectly," said Emily Prior a BDSM/Kink/Fetish teacher at Sex Coach University and director of the Los-Angeles-based Center for Positive Sexuality. "But if your audience is people who already are in a lifestyle or are being introduced to the lifestyle, it starts to give misinformation."

"It perpetuates the ongoing idea that people who do this are broken in some way," she said. "And this is not true."

Dunlap, who has chronicled the practice of BDSM, interviewing hundreds of fetishists for his 2001 film, "Beyond Vanilla," said that the practice demands strict rules of safety.

"When two people want to get involved, their negotiation is up front," he said. "They are going to have a safe word: 'When I say, it ends. Period.' Most use a stop sign. Green means 'go.' Yellow means 'caution' and 'red' ends it."

"Play is also negotiated," said Dunlap. "For example, if you are doing flogging or whipping, 'Tell me during the process if you want to be hurt. Is it too hard? Is it too soft?'"

The BDSM craze has hit Britain, as well, according to Susan Quilliam, a relationship psychologist and sex advice columnist who is writing an academic piece on the trilogy for the Journal of Family Planning as well as running an exploratory workshop for the British couples. ...

"The Year of Kinky Movie Sex: ‘The Master,’ ‘The Paperboy,’ ‘On the Road,’ & More"

on Tuesday, 02 October 2012. Hits 589

The Daily Beast

During a pivotal scene in The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson’s engrossing psychological drama based (in part) on the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the charismatic mystic Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is gazing at himself in the mirror. His cunning wife, Peggy (played by the oft-bubbly Amy Adams), has been sensing an animal-like attraction between her husband and an unstable drifter, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). In order to mitigate his urges, she unzips his trousers, locks eyes with his reflection, and gives him a furious hand-job. “Cum for me,” she says.

And this masochistic sex act, delivered by none other than the princess from Enchanted, is just the tip of the … iceberg.

Whereas last year, amid all the priggish costume dramas, the only film during awards season that got movie-going audiences all hot and bothered was the NC-17-rated Shame, which featured its star Michael Fassbender urinating on camera and engaged in a raunchy three-way sex scene that included a rare “tossed salad,” this year’s batch of Oscar hopefuls boasts a plethora of sex acts ranging from the impressive to the downright bizarre. Call it the Fifty Shades of Grey effect.

Over the summer, audiences gagged at the sight of Gina Gershon forcibly fellating a chicken leg situated in the crotch of a psycho killer, played by Matthew McConaughey, in William Friedkin’s impressive dark comedy, Killer Joe. And in another McConaughey film, the male-stripping extravaganza Magic Mike, randy viewers were treated to a close-up shot of Big Dick Richie (True Blood hunk Joe Manganiello) inflating his gigantic penis in a pump.

This year’s crop of fall film releases courting Oscar can be divided into two distinct categories: hand-jobs and the handicapped. ...

Latest Reader Comments

  • This seems to me like it was a BSDM arrangement, which explains why she kept going to work and then went back to the apt. That said, even...

    luisa

    22. February, 2011 |

  • This is a right sentence. How could you fail to share your condition in this situation. You left all these people without any choice.

    John

    23. January, 2011 |

  • Taking pictures with one of her own graduate students wasn't the most bright move.

    Inferno

    22. September, 2010 |

  • We chose polyamory because love could not be denied.

    twowives

    27. August, 2010 |

  • [...] (That link is not remotely work-safe.) I’ve never been, but I surely will someday! And the National Coalition for Sexual...
  • We loved the ethical slut! Great Book!

    Fellow Swingers

    06. July, 2010 |