Thursday, April 17, 2008

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — A woman can say “no” at any time during intercourse, and a man can be convicted of rape if he doesn”t stop, Maryland’s highest court ruled yesterday.

In the case of a man convicted of rape in 2004, the Court of Appeals decided that a woman can withdraw consent at any time, even after agreeing to sex.

The court ordered a new trial for Maouloud Baby, who was convicted of raping a woman in a car in 2003 when he was 15. His first trial ended in a mistrial.

According to testimony, the 18-year-old woman had just had sex with another man, and Mr. Baby asked whether he could “hit that” also.

Mr. Baby”s high-school classmate, Michael Wilson, pleaded guilty to second-degree rape and was sentenced to 18 months.

Mr. Baby testified that the woman agreed, as long as he would stop when she told him to. The woman testified that Mr. Baby continued for five to 10 seconds after she asked him to stop.

Mr. Baby was convicted in 2004 after a Montgomery County jury asked the judge whether sex that begins consensually but continues after the woman tells the man to stop constitutes rape. The judge replied that it was “a question that you, as a jury, must decide.”

Mr. Baby challenged his conviction, which was overturned by Maryland”s second-highest court. The Court of Appeals remanded the case back to a new trial, clarifying that a woman may withdraw consent at any time during sex.

“It”s important for women”s autonomy,” said Lisae Jordan, legal director for the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which filed a brief in favor of the “no-at-any-time” interpretation.

Tracy Brown, executive director of the Women”s Law Center of Maryland, said Maryland”s decision means the law will match what people already think: that a woman”s right to decide whether she wants sex does not end once sex begins.

“The decision is consistent with cultural standards,” Miss Brown said.

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