Increase in men cleared of rape who say they were sleeping
Cases of men accused of rape being acquitted by the courts after claiming to have been asleep while committing the act have been increasing, according to the Swedish Prosecution Authority.
Swedish Radio examined 18 cases from the past six years in which men accused of rape claimed they had been sleepwalking. Ten of those men were freed, with the principal reason given in five of those cases that the court considered he may have been sleeping.
One of the cases they looked at was of a man who was staying in a house with a friend whom he raped. He was freed after the court ruled he may have been sleepwalking.
Swedish Radio spoke to Dr Carlos Schenck, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and an expert on sexomnia – sexual acts committed during sleep – who was unimpressed with that decision.
“This person did not fit at all the profile of sexomnia, no past history of sexomnia,” Schenck said. “Really no well documented history of sleep walking. Nothing checks out.”
Research has shown that it is possible for a person to have sex in their sleep, but only for people with specific disorders and it is normally a recurring behaviour.
Dr Schenck said that in three of the other cases he looked at on behalf of Swedish Radio, in his opinion the men had in fact been intoxicated rather than asleep.