Last edited: February 14, 2005

NCSF Meets with Linda Fairstein, Head of the Manhattan Sex Crimes Unit

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, July 10, 2001
Contact: Susan Wright, Policy Director
1312 18th Street NW, Suite 102, Washington, DC 20036
Media Hotline: 202-955-1029

For Immediate Release

New York City — The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom recently met with Linda Fairstein, head of the Sex Crimes Unit in Manhattan, to express concern with the District Attorney’s apparent position in the Jovanovic case that consent is not a defense to a charge of assault, even where no significant physical injury resulted. Representatives from NCSF who attended the meeting were Judy Guerin, Executive Director, Susan Wright, Policy Director, and John Wirenius, Legal Director.

NCSF contends that consensual sadomasochistic practices could be prosecuted if the traditional defense of consent, which protects conduct ranging from sex play to sports, is removed from conduct resulting only in non-life threatening injuries, or in injuries of similar significance. In January 1999, after repeated attempts to meet with Linda Fairstein failed, NCSF filed an Amicus Brief with the NY State Supreme Court Appellate Division to protest the inclusion of "consent is not a defense to assault" in the charge to the jury during NY vs. Jovanovic. In New York, low-level assault is defined as reddening or bruising that lasts for several days.

In response to the concerns NCSF raised, Ms. Fairstein stated, "As long as consenting adults agree, then this office has no problem with what people do. In my 25+ years in the sex crimes unit, we have never prosecuted a case in which both the participants claimed their activities were consensual."

Ms. Fairstein also agreed to allow NCSF to hold a training session for their 40 employees on the issue of consensual sadomasochism.

"We’re very pleased with Ms. Fairstein’s response to our concerns," says Judy Guerin, Executive Director NCSF. "Our meeting will form the basis for a lasting working relationship with the New York District Attorney’s office."

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