Status: Real (though difficult to accept as an excuse for criminal behavior)
I first reported about the phenomenon of sleep sex over a year ago
. It's a rare disorder that causes people to engage in sexual behavior while asleep. It's also potentially one of the greatest excuses for sexual impropriety ever devised. Now there's a case in Canada
in which a guy successfully defended himself against charges of sexual assault by arguing that he's a sexsomniac:
Jan Luedecke, 33, met his victim at a party on July 6, 2003, and both had been drinking, the Toronto Sun reported. The woman, who can't be named, fell asleep on a couch and said she awoke to find him having sex with her. She pushed him off, then called the police. Luedecke claimed he fell asleep on the same couch and woke up when he was thrown to the floor. Sleep expert Dr. Colin Shapiro testified Luedecke had sexsomnia, which is sexual behavior during sleep, brought on by alcohol, sleep deprivation and genetics. The judgment outraged women's groups, the newspaper said.
I'm willing to bet that as popular awareness of sexsomnia grows, it'll begin to be used as a defense more and more often. It'll be like the mirror image of the repressed memory mania (i.e. a mania of not remembering, instead of remembering). The phenomenon itself may be real, but it sure seems like it's a malady tailor-made for con artists.