Due to pressure from activists and political figures including President Joe Biden, colleges have made it harder for students accused of sexual misconduct to show they obtained “consent” from their partners.
Lawmakers in New York are now looking to expand this effort to criminal courts.
Bills in the state Assembly (A6540) and Senate (S6200) would nullify consent if it were obtained through “deception, fraud, concealment or artifice,” meaning a person who told a falsehood or incomplete truth in the pursuit of sex could be prosecuted for sexual assault.
Assembly sponsor Rebecca Seawright portrayed the measure, which would define consent for the first time in New York penal law, as needed to “hold predators like Harvey Weinstein accountable.”
A press conference outside her office featured two women who testified against the disgraced Hollywood producer, Tarale Wulff and Dawn Dunning, according to ABC News. Since Weinstein defended himself by claiming “that he felt confused” about the definition of consent, “there will be no more confusion” under this legislation, Wulff said.
The Senate version, sponsored by James Sanders, invokes sexual assault trials for Weinstein and entertainer Bill Cosby. Jurists in both proceedings told jurors to use their “common sense” in defining consent, which resulted in a mistrial for Cosby, an extensive “Justification” section claims.
“Failure to define consent creates disparate outcomes in convicting sexual predators as each jury grapples to create its own definition with no guidance from New York State’s statutes,” the Senate version reads. “This vital concept cannot be left to chance.”
New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield faulted their wording as being unrealistic “in the real world.”