Husband Accused of Sexually Assaulting Wife (CA Penal Code 243.4)

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear about cases of domestic violence or sexual assault that are perpetrated by one spouse against the other.  However, in the case of one 78-year-old Iowa man, the tale has a different hue.  It seems that he and his wife, also 78, were happily married only 7 years before she recently passed away.  Nonetheless, their loving relationship has been put into question.  The man’s wife had been relegated to a nursing home and, as her dementia increasingly became worse, staff members informed her husband that she was no longer able to mentally consent to having sexual intercourse.  Because he disregarded that warning, he will soon stand trial for sexually assaulting her.

If this man and his wife had been residents of California, the law would have also provided remedies for the woman’s family if sexual assault could be proven.  CA Penal Code 243.4 clearly states that ‘sexual battery’ (or assault) is defined as any touching of the intimate portions of another person’s body, for the express purpose of gratifying oneself sexually, sexually arousing oneself, or for reasons of abuse.  This violation of the law could be considered either a misdemeanor offense or a felony offense.  Most likely, the man would have been charged with a felony sexual assault, considering that felony sexual assault in California specifically addresses patients in inherently coercive environments like nursing homes.  Penalties for felony sexual battery in California include a $10, 000 fine and up to 4 years in state prison.