Those following the case of Anna Stubblefield, the Rutgers-Newark philosophy professor accused of sexually assaulting a disabled man, may be interested in the following update to the case:
Judge Siobhan Teare ruled [that a proposed expert for the defense], Rosemary Crossley, will not be allowed to testify in regard to her assessment of the alleged victim, known as D.J. The evaluation was meant to test D.J.’s ability to communicate.
The judge found Crossley’s methods were “unreliable,” because she assisted D.J. in moving a communication device during the assessment.
But Stubblefield’s attorney, James Patton, said he is still requesting that Crossley be permitted to testify at the trial about the methodology used by the state’s experts in evaluating D.J., if those experts are allowed to testify.
Those experts have determined D.J. did not have the ability to consent to the sexual activity.
Stubblefield has apparently claimed that her relationship with “D.J.” was consensual because he consented via facilitated communication. Facilitated communication is highly controversial method of communication aimed at allowing people with cognitive disabilities to communicate, even if they are not capable of written, spoken, or signed language (as in the case of “D.J.”). There appears to be very little evidence that facilitated communication is a reliable method of communication. (Indeed, there seems to be quite a lot of evidence that it is not reliable and that responses are heavily influenced by the facilitator). Nevertheless, the method continues to be championed by some disability advocates and caregivers.
Stubblefield – herself a defender and practioner of facilitated communication – is relying on the good standing of the practice for her claim that her sexual encounters with “D.J.” were consensual. She repeatedly had sexual contact with “D.J.” in her office and is claiming he consented to this via facilitated communication. But experts for the prosecution have – unsurprisingly – found that “D.J.” is incapable of consent. The judge has now ruled that there is insufficient scientific evidence to allow an advocate of facilitated communication to testify as an expert witness on behalf of Stubblefield.