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US states lack laws explicitly outlawing necrophilia

Armine Hareyan's picture

Nine states in America do not have any laws explicitly banning sex with a corpse, a situation made highly visible after a 2006 legal case of attempted necrophilia, reveals an academic speaking at the Death, dying & disposal conference organised by the University of Bath today (Saturday 15 September 2007).

In September 2006, police in Wisconsin arrested three men found digging into the grave of a recently deceased woman. Upon questioning by police, one of the men, Alexander Grunke, explained that three men wanted to exhume the body so that one of them could have sex with it.

In the state court system, Alexander, his brother Nicholas and their friend Dustin Radtke (all aged 20) could not be charged with attempted necrophilia because there is no law making it illegal in the Midwest state of Wisconsin.

Since the intended victim was already dead, her body, under Wisconsin law, was legally recognised as human remains - and as such the trio could not be charged with attempted third-degree sexual assault.

Instead they were charged with the far less serious crime of attempted theft of the corpse.

“To legislate against this kind of abject behaviour means acknowledging its existence, which some authorities may find difficult to deal with,” said Dr John Troyer from The Ohio State University (USA).

“The sheriff at the time admitted that necrophilia was one of those things you hear about but never think you’ll have to deal with.

“But it does happen, and to do nothing within the law suggests legislative negligence.

“Human corpses and the laws that govern the use of dead bodies are uniquely positioned to cause legal discrepancies since the dead body is a quasi-subject before the law.

“This creates a constant problem where the deceased body is no longer a living person and therefore not covered by the laws that regulate sexual deviance.

“In a legal sense, necrophilia is a ‘victimless’ crime.”

After indexing the laws covering necrophilia, Dr Troyer discovered that only four US states have laws explicitly banning necrophilia. The rest have a “hodge-podge” of wording that could cover necrophilia, including crimes against “chastity, morality, decency and good order” in Massachusetts and “unnatural intercourse” in Mississippi.

In those states that do have laws covering necrophilia, the punishment can vary widely. In Nevada, for example, a person who “commits a sexual penetration on the dead body of a human being” can face life imprisonment and a US$20,000 fine.

In Minnesota, however, “whoever carnally knows a dead body or an animal or a bird” faces one year in prison and a US $3,000 fine.

Sexual penetration of a corpse is an offence in the UK under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

“It is impossible to track the number of necrophilia cases, particularly because of the variation between states,” said Dr Troyer.

“In the cases that I’ve come across, many people want to see it all go away so there isn’t a lot of press attention. Of course, when the story does get picked up it gets a lot of attention.

“I’m not proscribing more robust law enforcement but it certainly begs the question - how willing are people to examine the legal rights of dead bodies and the sexual desires of individuals deemed ‘human deviants?’”

The eighth international conference on Death, dying & disposal is organised by the Centre for Death & Society and ICIA at the University of Bath and takes place from 12-15 September 2007. More than 200 academics and practitioners from around the world will gather to discuss the latest research on issues relating to the social aspects of death and dying.-University of Bath


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
It was to my understanding that it would be in the public's favor if news articles remained UNbiased to avoid conflict and tension. This article clearly portrays necrophilia as a vile, evil act, with necrophiliacs as "sexual deviants". There are millions of fetishes from sex with food, to group sex, to feet. Honestly, why doesn't the legal system outlaw the use of food on any part of the body other than the mouth? Necrophilia is much like this. The body is DEAD. No longer a living, breathing organism. It holds as much credibility as a rock. If people are interested in having sex with this rock-like thing, much like some people enjoy masturbating with cucumbers or beer bottles, why not let them? For any religious people: the immortal soul detaches from the body at death and is sent where ever it belongs, so what is this obsession with protecting the lifeless body? How ridiculous.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Excuse me, so you wouldn't mind your dead mother having sex with men?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
So...say you probably wouldn't mind. Let's say a sibling of yours was dead. You wouldn't mind your neighbors having sex with her dead body?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I totally agree with you about everything you said. But the real point is IF a person wants to be used as a sexual object after his death, like organ donation (that in my opinion is far more invasive than a pleasant penetration). If not, then yes, it should be considered a criminal offense (maybe not like a rape, depends, it may vary like with living ones). If yes, then sorry but I don't see what's the problem. Let's suppose that me and my wife decide that when one dies the other will have sex with his/her body...why not? Maybe because people don't know how to mind their own business. Ok about "Primum non nocere", totally agree with that too, but imho is crucial that: "a paerson must have 100% freedom to make of himself what he thinks should/must be done" (unless he's handicapped or REALLY pathologically and physiologically mentally ill), individual freedom should not be blocked by a mob of obtuse goats that want everyone to be like them. All this said in short, I hope not to be misunderstood. Of course we don't have trouble eating a dead pig ... or cook it with an orange in its mouth and some garlic in its ass. Or using live bodies to make wars and after they die make them an autopsy and then close it up. Or dress up a dead man with expensive clothes and makeup him to be buried in a luxurious coffin that will preventing him to return to the earth. Points of view, only matter of points of view.

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