Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Jersey Appellate Court Says Religious Belief Does Not Excuse Coerced Sex With Wife

In S.D. v. M.J.R., (NJ Super. Ct. App. Div., July 23, 2010), a New Jersey appellate court held that the trial court should have issued a final restraining order to protect a Muslim woman who had been the victim of her husband's domestic violence. The trial court judge had concluded that while the husband's coerced sex with his wife constituted sexual assault, the husband did not have the requisite sexual intent because of his belief that his religion permitted him to require his wife to comply with his sexual demands. The appellate court held: "Because it is doubtlessly true that the laws defining the crimes of sexual assault and criminal sexual contact are neutral laws of general application, and because defendant knowingly engaged in conduct that violated those laws, the judge erred when he refused to recognize those violations as a basis for a determination that defendant had committed acts of domestic violence."