A man who tricked an Indiana college student into having sex with him by pretending to be her boyfriend will face no legal repercussions due to a loophole in the legal system.
Abigail Finney, a student at Purdue University in Indiana, shared her story with BuzzFeed in an effort to bring more awareness to the issue and highlight the shortcomings in rape laws throughout the country.
Finney had been spending time in her boyfriend's dorm room; he and a few of his friends were playing video games when she fell asleep. She was woken up to someone caressing her breast over her T-shirt. Thinking it was her boyfriend, the two had sex while he was still behind her.
When she got up to use the restroom, she was horrified to discover one of her boyfriend's friends had been the one in bed with her.
“I remember him grinning at me. It was a freaky image,” she'd later tell BuzzFeed. “I was just kind of — I was frantic. I didn’t know what was going on.”
At first she thought maybe it had just been a joke, but after asking where her boyfriend was, his friends said they didn't know.
She returned to her own dorm room and found her boyfriend fast asleep in her bed. When she told him what had happened, he was angry and confused and left the room, the news organization reports.
Finney was also confused. Although what had just happened had felt very wrong, she wasn't sure if it was illegal and remembers texting her friends for advice.
"I was like, 'I feel violated. This feels wrong. But I don't know if it's illegal,'" she recalled.
Finney and her boyfriend decided to go to the hospital and report the incident to police, who would later arrest Donald Grant Ward in connection with the incident.
He told police he had waited to climb into the bed until Finney's boyfriend left the room, and that he thought Finney believed it was her boyfriend in bed with her, BuzzFeed reports.
Ward was charged with two counts of rape, but a jury would later fail to convict him after deliberating just a few hours.
During the trial, defense attorney Kirk Freeman had argued that while the act was in poor taste, it didn't violate the law.
"Just because they are lying or being deceptive doesn’t make it rape,” Ward’s attorney Kirk Freeman told local TV station WLFI in February. "That’s not rape just in the fact that lots of women this weekend are going to have sex with Navy SEALs, going to have sex with football heroes, going to have sex with guys that rescue kittens from the middle of the interstate, and are going to have sex with men who tell them, ‘I love you,' and, ‘I’m ready for a commitment.' Just because they are lying doesn’t make it rape.”
Under Indiana law, an act is only considered rape if it meets certain conditions. These include if the act is done by force or threats, if the victim is not able to provide consent or is mentally disabled or if the victim isn't aware sex is occurring.
But, Finney's case highlights significant loopholes within state laws across the United States that don't protect against sex achieved through fraud.
After hearing the verdict, Finney told BuzzFeed she was "pretty angry" and felt she had "wasted a year of my life" when she could have been focusing on healing.
"My therapist even called the trial a second trauma, so I guess I felt like I had done all that for no reason," she said.
Since his acquittal, Ward has left Purdue and went on to another college.
Finney, who had to take a semester off school after the incident, is back in school and is focusing on healing and recovering from the trauma.
"She's just now getting back to her old self," her mom Leslee Finney told BuzzFeed.
[Photo Credit: Facebook]
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