Female Purdue University student, Abigail Finney tricked into sex with boyfriend’s friend- Donald Grant Ward. How Indiana state law failed to protect a violated woman.
An Indiana man accused of tricking a female college student into having sex with him has avoided legal consequences courtesy of a legal loophole.
Appearing in court earlier this year- Abigail Finney, 20, told of falling asleep in her boyfriend’s dorm room at Purdue University when she was a freshman last year only to wake up feeling someone ‘touching’ her from behind.
At the time, Finney assumed the man who’d entered her bed was her boyfriend- with the pair having sex. According to Finney at no point did she turn around to see her ‘lover’s’ face- while noting the room was dark according to an interview with Buzzfeed News.
After a minute, Finney said she got up to go to use the bathroom, only to discover her boyfriend’s friend, 19-year-old Donald Grant Ward, lying in the bed.
‘I remember him grinning at me. It was a freaky image,’ she told the media outlet. ‘I was just kind of — I was frantic. I didn’t know what was going on.’
She assumed her boyfriend’s friends, who’d fallen asleep on the futon, were playing a prank on her and demanded to know where her boyfriend was. They said they didn’t know.
With their dorm rooms down the hall from each other, Finney rushed back to her room to find her boyfriend sleeping there. Upon telling him what happened- he became angry and confused, before storming out. Alone in her room, Finney wondered if she’d been raped or if what happened was against the law. She texted two friends for advice.
‘I was like, ‘I feel violated. This feels wrong. But I don’t know if it’s illegal.”
After Finney’s boyfriend confronted Ward, they went to the police, who conducted an investigation.
In an interrogation, Ward admitted he believed that Finney thought he was her boyfriend ‘because she got very close to me,’ according to a Tippecanoe police affidavit. Cops charged him with two counts of rape in February 2017.
Despite that, what he did isn’t defined as rape under state law.
Abigail Finney: Defining what we mean by consent.
Defining rape is also an issue of consent. But how does one define concept especially if they are being lied to and only find out later? What if the person doing the lying pretends he is not married or isn’t the Wall st banker his target had believed themselves to be agreeing to be going to bed with?
In Indiana, and 40 other states including New York, rape is legally defined as sex compelled through force or threats or if the victim can’t consent or is unaware that the sex is occurring. Consent isn’t expressly defined in the statute.
After two days of testimony and a few hours of deliberation, Ward was acquitted and the rape charge expunged from his record.
But it doesn’t stop there.
The episode led to Finney suffering anxiety and having nightmares and having to take time off from school.
‘I was pretty angry. I felt like I’d wasted a year of my life because I could’ve been trying to heal, but instead I was reopening the wound over and over again,’ said Finney.
‘My therapist even called the trial a second trauma, so I guess I felt like I had done all that for no reason.’
Told Grant’s defense attorney, Kirk Freeman, ‘Something can be bad, something can be against cultural norms, against etiquette — doesn’t mean it’s a crime,’
Adding, ‘So there are lots of things in this world that we wouldn’t ourselves do, but it doesn’t make it a crime.’
In the wake of Abigail’s case, there has been a push from US lawmakers, as well as sexual assault activists, to criminalize rape by fraud and better define what it means to give consent.
Abigail and her boyfriend are still together- but Abigail no longer lives on campus…..