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Professor to appeal sexual assault convictions

On Oct. 2, a female professor in New Jersey was convicted of two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault. The 45-year-old Rutgers University-Newark professor was accused of sexually assaulting a 34-year-old man with cerebral palsy who cannot speak. Following the conviction, the woman filed a motion for an acquittal or a new trial.

Psychologists have labeled the alleged victim of the sex crimes mentally incompetent and unable to provide consent for sexual activity. However, the accused woman claims that the man was not intellectually impaired, and the two were able to communicate with each other using a typing method called 'facilitated communication." According to the accused woman, she and the man had fallen in love, and she was not pushing him around in any way.

At the heart of the case is the question of whether or not facilitated communication is a valid intervention that can be used to communicate with severely disabled people. The accused woman argues that recent studies have validated the technique while a psychology professor who testified at her trial claimed that facilitated communication is 'the most discredited intervention in all of developmental disabilities." If the woman's conviction is upheld, she could face a maximum sentence of 40 years behind bars.

A person who is facing charges for sex crimes may want to work with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to help the accused individual to file motions to suppress key pieces of evidence and dispute the validity of any evidence that remains. If a person is convicted, an attorney may be able to help appeal the court's decision.

Source: NJ.com, "Professor looks to overturn conviction for sex assault of disabled man," Bill Wichert, Nov. 8, 2015

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