An Iowa politician, Henry Rayhons, was accused of raping his wife who suffered from dementia. The nursing home told Rayhons that his wife was unable to consent to sexual intercourse any longer, as she did not have the capacity to make that decision due to her dementia and Alzheimers. However, Rayhons was found not guilty of charges of rape and sexual abuse.
The New York Times reports that the shamed Iowa politician has finally been cleared of allegations that he raped his wife while she was under nursing home care. Henry Rayhons’ political career came to a halt when allegations were made that he had sexual relations with his wife after she was deemed no longer able to consent. The charges against Rayhons highlighted the sensitive nature of sexual relationships for patients suffering from Alzheimers and forms of dementia.
“The case ignited intense national discussion of an issue that will only gain importance as more Americans get older: whether and when people with dementia are capable of indicating if they desire intimacy.”
In court, Rayhons testified that his wife still initiated sexual contact with him despite her dementia. However, he says that on the night in question, he did not have sex with his wife, but rather they had just kissed, held hands, and prayed together. He notes that he just drew the curtains around the bed for privacy.
Though Rayhons says that the pair did not have sex after the nursing home told him that she could no longer consent, he did admit to “playing” with his wife on occasion in the nursing home. He says that his wife would sometimes reach into his pants on her own accord, and he did not realize there was anything wrong with that. Rayhons says that if she initiated that action that she was consenting.
“Donna and I would ‘play.’ She would reach in my pants and fondle me sometimes. I always assumed that if somebody asks for something, they have the capacity to consent.”
According to the Des Moines Register, Rayhons was found not guilty after insufficient evidence was provided that the couple even had sex the night in question. The case hinged on the woman’s roommate, who claims she heard sounds that were sexual in nature. However, on the stand, she said she could not be sure they had sex. In addition, lab tests could not prove recent sexual interaction despite being performed on the woman that night.
What do you think of the case of Henry Rayhons and its implications in dementia cases and patients ability to consent to sexual contact?
[Image Credit: Bloomberg]