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New Jersey Introduces A Bill to Charge "Rape By Fraud" - Will Massachusetts Follow?

A new bill has been recently introduced in New Jersey by Assemblyman Troy Singleton that could potentially prompt charges of rape to anyone who engages in sexual activity with another person under a false pretense.

The crime would be referred to as "sexual assault by fraud." According the bill, currently known as A3908, it is defined as "an act of sexual penetration to which a person has given consent because the actor has misrepresented the purpose of the act or has represented he is someone he is not."

Florence, NJ resident Michele Lewis, was reportedly conned by her boyfriend, Cherry Hill resident, William Allen Jordan. Jordan tricked Lewis into paying him $5,000 for what he claimed was a "security clearance" and later pleaded guilty to defrauding Lewis. Jordan had also told Lewis that he was a British military official. During the case, prosecutors tried to charge Jordan with sexual assault by coercion to no avail.

Singleton believes that there should be legislation in place for these situations. "I truly believe that we have to look at the issue of rape as more than sexual contact without consent," Singleton stated to NJ.com. "Fraud invalidates any semblance of consent just as forcible sexual contact does. This legislation is designed to provide our state's judiciary with another tool to assess situations where this occurs and potentially provide a legal remedy to those circumstances."

However, New Jersey criminal defense attorney Alan Zegas believes the bill is too broad and would not withstand a constitutional challenge.

"What if a man were to say to a woman 'I love you' and engage in sex and he really didn't love her?" Zegas commented. "The definition is so broad that it doesn't put the citizens of the state on fair notice of what it is that constitutes the crime."

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