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Tim Zerillo Interviewed by NBC 6 Concerning the "Stealthing" Phenomenon

Posted by David A. Weyrens | Apr 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

The following is from Chris Costa's story on WCSH NBC 6, which can be found by clicking here.

Following is the story which appears on WCSH6.com:

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --

A new trend called "stealthing" involves two people who agree to consensual sex but midway through the act, one partner decides to remove protection, such as condom, without telling his or her partner.

While the practice is not new, the hashtags "stealth" and "stealthing" are, and people are bragging about it on social media.

"I don't think it's something that should be taken lightly," said University of Southern Maine senior Kristina Lilley. "[Sex] is supposed to be cherished. In this situation, all that is erased."

"Deceptive? Definitely. Disgusting? Yes. Just the plain word: wrong," said third-year student Lucas Harris.

"No means no. If someone were to say no, even if they said yes before, or if they're drunk, there's never an excuse," said freshman Chloe Camire.

Melanie Sachs, the executive director of the Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine said she has received calls from people claiming that they have been a victim to similar situations.

"They went into that sexual activity with consent. If you think about it, they've negotiated time, place, things they're willing to do and not do, and one of those is using a condom," said Sachs.

Sachs said "stealthing" can cause more damage than a sexually transmitted disease or an unwanted pregnancy.

"Denying somebody the consent that they had agreed to previously in this unexpected and very violent way if you think about it -- it's very traumatic," said Sachs. "There can be sadness, anger, rage, feelings harkening back to any other trauma they've had."

Criminal defense attorney Tim Zerillo said that in general during sexual assault or contact cases, intent can be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

"Usually there is an argument that 'I was not aware she had withdrawn her consent," said Zerillo.

However, he said if a person posts on social media bragging about the act of stealthing, it is possible a prosecutor could establish a fact pattern.

"If somebody was foolish enough to post on social media about how they like to do that, it would present an easier proof case for the state," said Zerillo. "From a factual perspective, it seems to me that the obvious defense for somebody that is charged with an unlawful sexual contact for this stealthing behavior is, 'I didn't mean to do it.'"

Zerillo said that if the state could establish a fact pattern of intent with the social media posts, he believes the charge would be unlawful sexual contact.

Sachs said anyone on social media should discourage stealthing.

"We need to step up and say, 'this is wrong Why are you posting about this?'"

Students such as Lilley said she has friends who have been sexually assaulted and that they still talk about the trauma. She urged anyone who would consider stealthing to reconsider.

"Take a step back. You're possibly doing some damage that they're going to live with forever," said Lilley.

Sachs said consent is continuous: a person can say no at any time, even if they have already said yes.

There are counselors available at the Crisis and Support Line: 1-800-871-7741.

About the Author

David A. Weyrens

David Weyrens is a trial attorney whose practice is devoted to litigation of both criminal and civil matters. In the civil arena, David has a robust practice in the area of personal injury law - helping those i...

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