CrimProf Blog

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

Monday, November 5, 2007

CrimProf Chris Hutton Discusses Coercion in the Klaudt Case

Hutton_chris From University of South Dakota School of Law CrimProf Chris Hutton discusses the case of the former state Rep. Ted Klaudt with concern to a phony scheme to sell reproductive eggs, foster daughters submitting to breast exams and vaginal stimulation by a former House member, a boyfriend performing an ovary check on his girlfriend while Klaudt watched, and references to thousands of pages of sometimes violent and sexually explicit e-mails and messages, the first three days of the case have been bizarre and disturbing.

Klaudt's defense does not rest on denying the alleged acts. The key point that has emerged is whether Klaudt coerced the teens into allowing him to perform those acts.

Klaudt, 49, a Corson County farmer and rancher, is charged with four counts of second-degree rape involving two foster daughters. The state corrections department placed the girls in the home. Klaudt's wife, Connie, held a state license for foster care.

Klaudt's lawyer, Tim Rensch, told jurors in his opening statement that the case didn't involve forcible rape. Each of the girls was older than 16, South Dakota's age of consent, he said, and no force was used in the egg-donation exams that involved penetration with fingers and instruments.

Chris Hutton of the University of South Dakota School of Law said it's possible a jury instruction already has been developed to set out what coercion means in the case. Essentially, "If you have someone who says the word 'yes,' but it's basically because the person is, even if not physically being forced, said to be deprived of their will, then that person might be said to be coerced," Hutton said.

A knife to the throat and sexual intercourse is forced rape, she said. If a person breaks into a home, grabs a mother and tells her to submit or he'll hurt her daughter sleeping in the next room, that's a form of coercion, she said.

"You can also get that from a relationship," Hutton said. "If you have a parent and a child, it could be something like, the parent says to the kid, 'You do this, or you're not going to get any more food. You do this or you're not sleeping in the house anymore, you're going to be sleeping out in the shed.' It's that kind of thing where they don't actually physically harm the person, but because they are in such a powerful position, the kid ... is going to feel coerced." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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