While I don't doubt the legitimacy of 'sexsomnia' as a sleep disorder, I can see where it presents complications in sexual assault scenarios.
It seems like it would be difficult to determine if the assailant was actually aware of their actions at the or not at the time of their offense. You can demonstrate that the accused suffers the sleep disorder, but I think it would be difficult to prove that it was manifesting at the time of the assault. If I was sleeping in bed alone and awoke to find someone naked, on top of me, and trying to have sex with me, my first thoughts are unlikely to be 'I wonder if he/ she is exhibiting signs of a severe sleep disorder." I would wager, to the victim, the difference would be negligible in many cases. The damages could be exactly the same as rape whether the assailant was suffering 'sexsomnia' or not.
Let's assume, hypothetically, that we knew with absolute certainty that the assailant was not aware of their actions at the time. In this scenario, I don't hold their behavior as criminal. Unfortunate things happen and there isn't always someone to blame for it. That said the consequences could range anywhere from trivial to quite severe for the recipient of their actions. I would think that the sexsomiac would be financially liable for any damages to the victim (this is in my dream world where people argue for legitimate compensation for real damages).
'Sexsomniac' RAF man sobs as he is cleared of raping girl in his sleep
By LUKE SALKELD
Last updated at 20:59 06 August 2007
An RAF mechanic who claimed he was sleepwalking when he had sex with a 15-year-old girl was cleared of rape yesterday.
Senior Aircraftsman Kenneth Ecott, 26, broke down in tears after a jury took two hours to agree that he was not responsible for his actions.
Ecott did not deny having sex with the girl but said he had no memory of it happening.
Instead he insisted he had a condition known as 'sexsomnia' in which sufferers carry out indecent acts in their sleep.
It was this rare affliction which caused him to climb naked on top of the girl during a friend's birthday party sleepover, Bournemouth Crown Court was told.
The teenager screamed when she awoke. Ecott was said to have confessed to the girl's family and apologised for having sex with her. But when he was arrested later that day in his barracks at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, he told police he was prone to sleepwalking.
He claimed to have been in a state of 'automatism' while with the girl, meaning he was not aware of his actions.
This defence was supported by his girlfriend, who told the court that he had fondled her in bed while asleep.
(article continues at afore mentioned source link)
Kris, I see that it could be difficult to prove. And, of course, someone will try to take advantage of the condition and claim "they couldn't help it," just as some defendants are "incompetent to stand trial" while others only pretend to be.
If I was sleeping in bed alone and awoke to find someone naked, on top of me, and trying to have sex with me, my first thoughts are unlikely to be 'I wonder if he/ she is exhibiting signs of a severe sleep disorder."
Really? My first thought would be "it's about time!" Ha ha!