Sometimes ‘no’ can mean ‘yes,’ court rules in overturning sexual assault conviction

Sad and scary incident, yet also instructive: The Canadian court basically said tone and context are as important to communication as the words used.

National Post | News

“No” can mean “yes” in some sexual situations, the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled in overturning the conviction of a man for sexually assaulting his wife.

The couple’s kinky history of role playing “complicated the trial judge’s analysis,” the court found, such that he gave short-shrift to the husband’s claim that the wife’s refusal was an act, and also failed to consider the wife’s “tendency to dramatize.”

“More importantly, nowhere in his reasons for judgment does the trial judge make a specific finding as to whether, in the specific context of the … sexual relationship, ‘no’ had ever meant ‘yes,’” wrote Mr. Justice Paul Rouleau, for a panel of three judges. In fact, it had, which the judge acknowledged in sentencing the husband to four months jail and three years probation.

The husband, who will now face a retrial, but cannot be identified by court order to protect his…

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