The sexual behaviour of undercover police fits the definition of rape
One of the 11 women who are currently suing the police after being tricked into having sexual relationships with men later revealed to be undercover officers said that she felt that she had been “raped by the state”. “We were sexually abused,” she said, “because none of us gave consent.”
Chief Constable Mick Creedon, who is leading an inquiry into the units in question, acknowledges that officers might be prosecuted as a result of some undercover activities, but says of the sexual involvement that it is a bit like men lying about whether they are married: “It happens.” Nick Herbert, when minister for police and criminal justice, claimed that a specific ban on undercover officers having sexual relationships would provide “a ready-made test for the targeted criminal group to find out whether an undercover officer was deployed among them”.
When police lie their way into criminal gangs, pretending to be willing participants in wrongdoing in order to disrupt it or apprehend wrongdoers, that level of undercover work has far fewer moral question marks over it. But these police have lied their way into women’s intimate lives. Some of the suits against the police call this inhuman and degrading treatment, as well as deceit, assault, breach of privacy and misfeasance in a public office.
There will need to be detailed examination of each case in court, but these relationships appear to have been deliberately donned as aspects of the undercover identity. Although deceived as to whom their sexual partner was, a female protester could nonetheless give him credibility in the world he wanted to infiltrate. Wear a woman as part of your disguise.
Rape is sex without consent in which the perpetrator does not reasonably believe that the complainant is consenting. It is common sense that these sexual acts fit that definition of rape and it could be the legal position too.
Well, Vera Baird, the author of this article, may think it’s “common sense” that this fits the definition of rape, but I don’t. I first read about this case on this thread on the Gail Simone Forum, where the person who posted it agreed that it was “legalized rape,” and offered the position that relationships “built on deception” are the same as rape.
Personally, I think that’s quite the stretch. If we try broaden the definition of rape to include people who have deceived their partners, by lying to them about whom they are, or what they do, that’s just way too wide of a net. And I think it devalues the seriousness of the act of rape. And I know this is part where I’m supposed to make some joke about how “if we arrest every man who ever lied to a woman to get sex, we’d have to lock up every man on Earth”, but, seriously, people do lie, men and women, in order to attract mates. Some lies are big, some lies are small. Sometimes the reason the person has for telling the lie(s) is understandable, sometimes it’s purely self-centered.
In the forum thread, as well as in the article, it seems like a lot of folks got hung up on the fact that the men in question were employed as police officers, and if they were specifically ordered to attempt to pursue relationships with women while on the job. That certainly is an ethical quandary that I’m sure undercover police officers/agents have faced as far back as the beginning of these types of missions. You go undercover, pretend to be friends with people you are investigating, try to gain their trust, when it’s all deception on your part. Even ignoring any possible sexual relationships that might develop, I’d bet a lot of undercover agents occasionally feel conflicted about what they’re doing. It’s classic trope of crime fiction, books, TV, and movies (like IN TOO DEEP), so I know it happens in real life.
I read the story of a woman called Jacqui, and her experiences with an undercover office named Bob Lambert. He posed as Bob Robinson, told her he was an Animal Rights activist, and they began a 5 year relationship, that including having a child together:
“I feel like I’ve got no foundations in my life,” she said. “It was all built on sand – your first serious relationship, your first child, the first time you give birth – they’re all significant, but for me they’re gone, ruined, spoiled. I was not consenting to sleeping with Bob Lambert, I didn’t know who Bob Lambert was. I had a spy living with me, sleeping with me, making a family with me, and I didn’t do anything to deserve that.”
I definitely sympathize with her. It sounds awful. But is it rape? What if he wasn’t an undercover officer, working for the state at the time? What if he was just a plain old scumbag? He could have been some traveling businessman, or airline pilot, whatever. Some married bloke with a job that caused him to be out of town a lot, and while out of town he starts dating some younger woman he meets, lying to her about who he really is, and not telling her about his wife and family back home. That does happen, and the women who get played have been deceived but, ultimately, they did consent to those sexual relationships. Or look at the case I wrote about football player Mario Williams, he’s suing his ex for his engagement ring back, after she dumped him, and claims she used him for his fame and money and never actually intended to marry him. MAYBE that’s all true, but he’s still the one who willingly chose to spend all that money on her, including the $750k ring.
To use another example that I brought up on the forum, look at all the gay people over the years who have started relationships with members of the opposite sex, even getting married and starting families, all to hide their sexuality, and fit it with the rest of society? That’s deception too. And it’s not fair to the people who they deceive. But, again, I just can’t call that rape. I mean, what if I put on my ONE suit and tie, that I wear once or twice a year at parties, funerals, or weddings, rent a fancy car, and drive out to some nightclub tonight, and tell a woman I meet that my name is J.R. Lewis, and I’m a millionaire who lives in Beverly Hills, and she agrees to go to a hotel and sleep with me, because she wants a rich guy, would that make me a rapist?
When I brought up the issue on the forum of those gay people who are in the closet, the person who started the topic said that’s different, and that people could easily identify exceptions, but I seriously doubt it would be that easy for courts, judges, attorneys and juries to all uniformly agree on exactly what level of deception, and what motivations for it, equal the level of rape. Heck, even with what SHOULD be the universally accepted definitions of rape, you can’t always get an agreement. A woman said she was held down and raped by Mike Tyson, and there are people who blame her for going to his hotel room at 2am. Or look at Serena Williams’ ignorant comments about the Steubenville rape case. That girl was totally passed out, and they got the attack on video, yet Serena’s wondering why the girl was drinking while underage? And now you want the legal system to start trying to prosecute people who lied about themselves in order to get sex? I don’t see that as a good idea.
Just my opinion.