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Kissing a sleeping victim doesn't constitute sexual battery

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A victim being asleep isn’t equivalent to a mental disability or deficiency for purposes of the sexual battery statute, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday.

Ronald Ball was convicted of Class D felony sexual battery for kissing and licking Shaun Dozier’s face while she was asleep. Once she awoke, she asked him to stop, and he left her apartment where he had been hanging out. Dozier uses a wheelchair and takes pain medication that can affect her memory, but the state never argued this made her mentally disabled or deficient for purposes of the sexual battery statute.

At issue in the case is whether Dozier’s being asleep at the time of the battery rendered her “so mentally disabled or deficient that consent to the touching cannot be given” requiring Ball to be convicted of Class D felony sexual battery.

No case has considered this issue, so the Court of Appeals turned to the rape and criminal deviate conduct statutes, which also include identical language – the force or threat of force and mental disability or deficiency prongs – that are found in the sexual battery statute.  

But those crimes also include a third prong not in the sexual battery statute: a person may be convicted under the rape or criminal deviate conduct statutes if the victim is unaware the conduct is occurring. Under those statutes, being asleep only has supported a conviction charged under the unawareness prong, not the mentally disabled or deficient prong, wrote Chief Judge Margret Robb in Roland Ball v. State of Indiana, No. 06A01-1007-CR-426.

“The plain meaning of ‘mentally disabled or deficient,’ as well as the facts of the cases in which a victim has been found to be mentally disabled or deficient, would exclude a temporary, natural state such as sleep from inclusion in that phrase. Moreover, the legislature did not include in the sexual battery statute the ‘unawareness’ provision included in other sex offense statutes, and we believe it would be disharmonious to construe ‘mentally disabled or deficient’ to include sleep for purposes of the sexual battery statute when the same phrase does not include sleep for purposes of the other sexual offense statutes,” wrote the chief judge. “We therefore conclude that being asleep does not constitute being mentally disabled or deficient.”

The state failed to prove the element of mental disability or deficiency beyond a reasonable doubt, so the judges reversed Ball’s Class D felony sexual battery conviction. However, the evidence supports entering a judgment against him for Class B misdemeanor battery.

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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