- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A Rutgers University professor took advantage of a disabled man she was working with and sexually assaulted him in her office in 2011, a prosecutor told jurors at her trial, but the woman says they were in a consensual relationship and in love.

Anna Stubblefield, 45, of West Orange is on trial in Newark on charges of aggravated sexual assault.

Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Eric Plant said in opening statements Wednesday that Stubblefield targeted the 34-year-old man because of his mental incapacitation and physical limitations. The victim has cerebral palsy and doesn’t speak, NJ.com reported (https://bit.ly/1L4I2Fa ).

“They (the man’s family) trusted her. They brought her into their home and into their world,” Plant said. “And that’s why when she sexually molested (the man) in 2011, it was so injurious to them. It was such a breach of trust.”

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of alleged sexual abuse.

Defense attorney James Patton told jurors Stubblefield had fallen in love and the two were in a consensual relationship. Stubblefield claimed that he consented through a technique known as facilitated communication.

“What happened between these two people was not sexual assault,” Patton said.

Stubblefield met the man in 2009 through his brother - then a Rutgers student - who asked her to help the man with his communication, Plant said. She worked with him for two years, but Plant said Stubblefield betrayed the family’s trust when she pursued a scheme to sexually assault him.

After Stubblefield disclosed the relationship to the man’s family, the brother reported the alleged abuse to Rutgers officials, who contacted authorities.

Rutgers has placed Stubblefield on administrative leave without pay.

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Information from: NJ Advance Media.

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