Crime & Courts, Sexual assault

Rutgers professor files motion against conviction of sexually assaulting a disabled man

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It is being reported on November 8, 2015 that the former head of the philosophy department at Rutgers-Newark University, Anna Stubblefield, has requested an acquittal or new trial after her conviction on October 2, 2015 for sexual assault.  “Stubblefield was convicted  . . . of two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault. The sexual acts occurred in her Newark office in 2011.”

Stubblefield, 46,  admits that she had a sexual relationship with a disabled man whom she communicated with via a controversial technique called, “facilitated communication.”  The questionable method of communication is when the disabled person’s hands are guided along a keyboard and ostensibly speaks to others through this manual manipulation.   The crux of the trial depended upon whether D.J. consented to the sexual contact with Stubblefield.  The technique has been compared to using a Ouija board by critics.  D.J. is otherwise unable to talk or communicate.

The judge did not accept this form of communicating as being scientifically valid.  Therefore, it was determined that the 34-year-old man called D.J., who suffers from cerebral palsy, could not have consented to sex.  D.J. can only make noises and was diagnosed as mentally incapacitated by psychologists.  Experts said that he had the mental abilities of a two-year-old.

However, Stubblefield and her attorneys maintain that he is not mentally challenged, that they were able to converse through “facilitated communication” and that they had fallen in love.  This new motion filed by her defense questions whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that she knew that D.J. was mentally able unable to consent.

The next court date is Jan. 15 2016.   “As a first-degree offender, Stubblefield is facing a potential state prison term of between 10 and 20 years on each count for a maximum possible sentence of 40 years.”  Stubblefield is also undergoing an evaluation to decide if she could be a repeat sexual offender.

Her lawyer, James Patton, said they they will appeal her conviction.  Stubblefield is being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility.

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