There is no question that Donna Lou Rayhons had severe Alzheimer’s.

In the days before being placed in a nursing home in Garner, Iowa, last year, Mrs. Rayhons, 78, could not recall her daughters’ names or how to eat a hamburger. One day, she tried to wash her hands in the toilet of a restaurant bathroom.

But another question has become the crux of an extraordinary criminal case unfolding this week in an Iowa courtroom: Was Mrs. Rayhons able to consent to sex with her husband?

Read the full story here.

Let's suppose she, in her demented state gave consent and even enjoyed the sex, perhaps not even realizing whom she was having sex with.

There's a saying  that "Hard cases make bad law." Are we on the verge of making bad law here? Or is the state right defending his (now dead) wife against partner rape?

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Was there consent, implied or otherwise? That will never be known. To find an individual guilty of raping his spouse when there remains doubt as to whether both were in agreement would be a travesty of justice. At what point does the caretaker facility have the right to deny intimacy between partners? This grey area of mental competency will have to be studied and even then I don't believe a clear cut solution will be evident.

To me, it seems that the crux is this: Does a marital partner have a special status when it comes to having sex with someone suffering from Alzheimers? I think it's fairly clear that if I discovered that the woman down the hall from me was suffering from some degree of dementia, and I TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THAT to use her for sex, that would be wrong and a form of rape.

When a person has sex with a marital partner with whom he or she has had a loving and caring relationship, we are suddenly in murky waters. 

Should we have two different standards, one of them for married people?

"Should we have two different standards, one of them for married people?"

I am not sure legal marriage is a dominate consideration. If two individuals had cohabitated for a number of years there would still be the same feelings of love and intimacy. The key concern is that the infirm person recognizes their partner and expresses some sort of interest in intimacy. 

Ah, the struggles and odd behavior of children when their parent remarries later in life.  It is so hard to imagine that our older parents may want love and intimacy and find it in their heart to "replace" the mom or dad we knew with someone else.   As one gets older, seeing this play out in families is not uncommon.  It's even more common if money is involved.  I wonder if it's involved here?  Daughters wanting mom's money not to go to new dad?

Ordinarily no prosecutor would touch this case with a ten-foot pole.  However, when the husband is a Republican legislator and the state attorney general is a prominent Democrat, we have a recipe for family feud becoming a bizarre felony case.  Particularly when the state AG's office takes the case rather than let the local county prosecutor handle it, which would be normal procedure for 99.9% of other cases.

A wise judge will find a way to dismiss this in the pleadings.

The role of the daughter is an interesting aspect of this litigation. Without her input one wonders if this would of became an issue in the 1st place.

From what I read, he was told by doctors NOT to engage in sexual activity. He did anyway. Then he lied about it until he was found out by the camera...

Why did he disregard the fact that the Dr. Told him she could not consent to sex? Did it excite him that he was doing something he was told not to do? Was he putting her first or himself first?

All I can say is I wish it was that easy to arrest rapists everywhere.

Yes, this is a case of marital rape (based on what I read)...

Doctors are there for medical advice, not ethical advice. 

One aspect of a case like this is who is in control from a legal standpoint. Usually. at some point in and Alzheimer's case, someone else becomes able to give consent FOR the person. If that was the husband, it gets really muddied.

@Unseen,

Doctors are there for medical advice, not ethical advice. 

It is medical advice to tell the husband that his wife is no longer able to consent to sex and therefore should not engage in sexual intercourse. It is then his responsibility to put his wife first and obey the doctor's orders.

One aspect of a case like this is who is in control from a legal standpoint. Usually. at some point in and Alzheimer's case, someone else becomes able to give consent FOR the person. If that was the husband, it gets really muddied.

Having a POA (power of attorney) or being in control of medical decisions does not give someone free reign to force intercourse on a patient that is not aware of what's happening. Having the ability to make decisions for someone doesn't ever include being able to decide if they have sex or not. That's just simply not part of what the legal definitions of these positions of control imply or were created for.

Although innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, if the article you linked is correct, again, he had sex with her even though he knew that she could not consent to it, and then lied about it when asked point blank about it. Only after they said it was on camera did he admit his guilt which is another reason to be suspicious of. He KNEW he did something wrong or he wouldn't have lied about it. I feel for the man....but honestly, we have to be objective about it.

I think this is a matter for law makers clarifying the definition of consent through debate and consensus. The clearer the definition of consent is...the better for everyone. What he did was scuzbaggish...and I'm on the fence as to whether it's marital rape or not (though if there was a gust of wind I'll fall over to the marital rape side).

Perhaps you'll consider the FBI's definition enough of a breeze....

Quote: Frequently Asked Questions about the Change in the UCR Definition of Rape December 11, 2014 The FBI has implemented an important change in the definition of rape that is used in the collection of national crime statistics. PERF has been working to keep its members apprised of how this change will affect local police agencies. Following is a set of questions asked by jurisdictions and answers the FBI provided to PERF: Q: In 2012, the Department of Justice announced a change to the definition of Rape for the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s (UCR) Summary Reporting System (Summary). How does the new definition differ from the old one? A: The old definition was “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Many agencies interpreted this definition as excluding a long list of sex offenses that are criminal in most jurisdictions, such as offenses involving oral or anal penetration, penetration with objects, and rapes of males. The new Summary definition of Rape is: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Q: When will the new definition of Rape become effective? A: The new definition of Rape went into effect on January 1, 2013

I notice the absence of the word "explicit" along with consent in the definitions. I know that when I've had sex, especially when I was married, it never seemed necessary to spoil the moment with "Do you really want to do this?" "Yes." "Are you really really sure?" "Yes, please!" "Pinky swear?" "Come on!" "Okay, as soon as you sign this coitus contract, I'll be happy to start."

Now, when serving food to a person with Alzheimer's, does one need to get consent for that, and if not might one be guilty of "food rape"?

@Belle Rose
"...without the consent of the victim." The question is was she competent to consent? The doctors say no.
It reminds me of these college date-rape cases where the girl is wasted drunk at a frat party and some guy takes advantage of her. Drunk = not competent to consent. No consent = rape.

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