Rusk met Pat at a bar. They
talked for a while and Rusk asked for a ride home. Pat drove Rusk home,
telling him that she wanted nothing more to happen.
When they arrived at Rusk's
apartment, Rusk took Pat's car keys and asked her to come upstairs. She
did. Rusk then asked her to have sex with him, which she did.
Pat made no attempt to
resist or flee. Rusk never threatened Pat with violence, he was just
authoritative and persistent.
Pat testified that at one
point during sex, Rusk put his hands around Pat's throat.
Pat further testified that
"the way he looked" scared her into compliance.
Rusk argued that the
encounter was entirely consensual.
Afterwards, Rusk allowed Pat
to leave, and asked her for her number.
Pat went to the police and
filed a complain that she had been raped.
The Trial Court found Rusk
guilty of rape in the second
degree. He appealed.
The Maryland rape Statute (Maryland
Code Criminal Law §3-303), says that
a person is guilty if they engage in sex with someone "by force or
threat of force against the will and without the consent of the other
Rusk argued that there was
no evidence that he forced Pat into doing anything, or that he ever
threatened to use force.
The Appellate Court overturned
the conviction. The prosecutor appealed.
The Appellate Court found
that "Force is an essential element in the crime of rape, and to
justify a conviction the evidence must warrant a conclusion either that
the victim resisted and her resistance was overcome by force, or that she
was prevented from resisting by threats to her safety.
The Maryland Supreme Court
reversed and upheld the conviction.
The Maryland Supreme Court
found that the victim's fear of the assailant can be enough to meet the
requirements of §3-303, but that
the "victim's fear must be reasonably grounded in order to obviate
the need for either proofs of actual force on the part of the assailant
or physical resistance on the part of the victim."
The Court found that the
Appellate Court erred when they retried the facts of the case.
Whether Pat's fear was
reasonable was a question of fact of the jury to decide, and should not
be overruled by the Appellate Court's reading of the testimony.
In a dissent it was argued
that the victim must make it plain that she does not give her consent.
Force or threat of force is an essential element of the crime, and the
prosecutor did not show that any threat of force existed outside of the
mind of the victim.
In essence, the dissent was
saying that in order to convict Rusk, there must be a showing that he
threatened the victim. If the victim just believed that Rusk was
threatening her, that's not the same.
Basically this case said that
a person can be convicted of rape even if they never explicitly threatened
force and the victim made no effort to resist. The important factor is
whether there was proof that the victim's fear was reasonable.
This decision implies that mens
rea is not a requirement for a
conviction for rape.