CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Judge Rules Unwanted Pat on Buttocks Is Not "Forcible Touching"

From the AP:  "NEW YORK (AP) _ A Manhattan judge has dismissed a forcible touching charge filed against a man who patted a woman's buttocks, ruling that a mere pat on the rear, even if unwanted, does not rise to the level of that crime. The forcible touching statute requires a person to do more than "touch quickly and gently with the flat of the hand," said Criminal Court Judge Richard M. Weinberg, citing the definition of "pat" from The New Oxford English Dictionary. He said the statute's forcible touching language requires "squeezing, grabbing or pinching."

The law is not limited to those types of touching, he said, but its use of the word "forcible" implies that a pat does not qualify.  The judge issued his ruling, made public Wednesday, in the case of Mohammed Nuruzzaman, 36, a Manhattan fabric store employee. Nuruzzaman was accused of twice touching a female customer's rear while she shopped in the store, at 227 W. 40th St., on Nov. 2, 2004.  Nuruzzaman was charged with forcible touching, third-degree sex abuse and second-degree harassment. A complaint says he touched the customer, a student, without her consent and with intent to degrade or abuse her, causing her annoyance and alarm.  The judge noted that the state Legislature passed the Sexual Reform Act of 2000, which created the crime of forcible touching, in response to the widespread sexual assaults that occurred in Central Park following that year's Puerto Rican Day parade.  "The plain language of (the law) makes clear that something more than mere touching is required under the statute," the judge wrote.  Referring again to his dictionary, he said "forcible" connotes something "done by force, vigorous and strong and powerful.""  Story . . .  [Mark Godsey]

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