Man's Acquittal of Marital Rape Raises South Carolina DebateLUCY SOTO , Associated Press
Apr. 17, 1992 5:08 PM ET
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A jury's decision to acquit a man shown on videotape having sex with his wife, who was tied up with her mouth and eyes taped shut, has left women's rights advocates angry and dismayed.
''It's going to take a while to change the attitudes in South Carolina,'' Candy Kern, state president of the National Organization for Women, said after Thursday's verdict.
The 33-year-old man was brought to trial under the marital rape law signed by Gov. Carroll Campbell last June. So far only one person has been convicted, and prosecutor Knox McMahon said he feared Thursday's verdict would make victims reluctant to come forward.
''I don't know what we're going to tell these women when they come here with a whole lot less evidence than this and want a conviction,'' McMahon said.
The woman, who is now separated from her husband and is seeking a divorce, sobbed and buried her face in her hands when the verdict was read. Her husband smiled and hugged supporters.
One of the jurors, Danny Taylor, said he believed in the law, but maintained that the prosecution hadn't proved its case.
''I had to vote on what my conscience told me to do,'' he said.
The eight-woman, four-man Lexington County jury took less than an hour to reach its verdict.
Jurors saw a videotape of the man having intercourse with his wife while her hands and legs were tied with rope and her mouth and eyes were covered with duct tape.
''No, I didn't rape my wife. How can you rape your own wife?'' the 33-year- old husband testified. He was not identified to protect his wife's identity.
The husband's attorney, Wayne Floyd, argued that the woman enjoyed it when her husband slapped her and that her screams were part of a sex game.
''Was that a cry of pain and torture? Or was that a cry of pleasure?,'' Floyd asked as the tape was played Wednesday.
Donna Jordan of the Rape Crisis Network in the Midlands said Friday that her office's phone lines were jammed with angry calls after the verdict. A domestic violence group, Sistercare, said it would hold a protest next week at the Statehouse.
Women's groups had lobbied for five years for the marital rape law. It requires that a victim report the crime within 30 days and show physical proof of abuse.
Alabama is now the last state in the country without any marital rape law, said Beth Stafford-Vaughan, a research librarian at the Women's Studies Center at the University of Illinois.
So far one person has been convicted under South Carolina's law and is serving the maximum 10-year prison sentence.
In the latest case, the woman testifed that her husband dragged her by the throat into a bedroom, tied her hands and legs, put duct tape on her eyes and mouth and put stockings and a garter belt on her legs. He then turned on the videotape and assaulted her, she said.
The judge blocked the prosecution's attempt to call the husband's former wife to testify that she also had been tied up and raped by the man.
Kern said sometimes it is harder to convince women jurors than men in such a case.
''Some of it is denial,'' she said. ''If we can say, 'She did something wrong and that's why she was raped,' then somehow, this won't happen to us.''