Halifax, Nova Scotia – Craig Jaret Hutchinson acted in desperation when he sabotaged condoms and got his girlfriend pregnant. His intention was to prevent her from leaving him. They’d been dating most of 2006 when the unidentified victim began questioning the relationship. By that September, Hutchinson was puncturing holes into the condoms they used. This action ultimately resulted in her pregnancy, followed by a break up and abortion.
CBC News reported that Hutchinson later admitted to damaging the prophylactics, for fear she’d use them with someone else and contract a disease or infection. Hutchinson was charged and acquitted in his first trial. The verdict was reversed on appeal and he was convicted of sexual assault in his 2011 trial.
Hutchinson’s conviction and 18-month prison sentence for sexual assault provoked debate regarding assumed consensual acts. The victim had consented to sex with the assumption an intact condom was being used. Clearly her intention was not to get pregnant. Hutchinson failed to bestow informed consent that resulted in an unplanned pregnancy on the victim’s part.
The terms of consent was argued, assessing whether or not tampering with birth control negated permission on the part of the victim, as there is always some risk of pregnancy when engaging in sex. Although irresponsible, the defense did not feel it was criminal.
Hilla Kerner, a spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres said:
“Getting consent in a deceitful way is rape. Real consent, free consent, can only be informed consent.”
Nova Scotia’s highest court decided Thursday to upholding Hutchinson’s original conviction. The province’s Court of Appeal said in a 4-1 decision without consent, sex is considered assault under the Criminal Code, according to the National Post.
Chief Justice Michael MacDonald responded to the decision:
“The alleged victim must be fully aware of the exact nature of the proposed sexual activity.”
The conviction of Hutchinson creates something of a potential legal slippery slope regarding surreptitious sexual sabotage on the part of women acting in the same vain. If women intentionally cease to take birth control pills and fail to inform their partners in hopes of getting pregnant, does it not also fall into the definition of sexual assault?
Chief Justice MacDonald disputed that it is unlikely a woman getting pregnant surreptitiously would be interpreted as assault. Pregnancy has more serious consequences for mothers than fathers.
Hutchinson is back in jail and contemplating submitting his appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.