Princeton Ethics Professor Defends Woman Convicted of Raping Man With Cerebral Palsy

PRINCETON, N.J. — An ethics professor at Princeton University has penned a controversial op-ed in defense of a Rutgers professor who was convicted of sexually assaulting a man with severe cerebral palsy, asserting that the two were in love and the man might have actually consented.

The New York Times published Peter Singer’s article on April 3, which centered on the case of Anna Stubblefield, who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence. Stubblefield was found guilty in October 2015 of engaging in sexual activity with a 29-year-old man named D.J., who is unable to speak.

In addition to the criminal case, D.J’s family sued Stubblefield in their belief that their son was molested and was awarded $4 million by a New Jersey court last year.

But Singer, along with Jeff McMahan, a professor of moral philosophy at Oxford, argue that it is rather Stubblefield who is a “victim of grievous and unjust harms” because “there is no evidence” that the sexual relationship hurt D.J.

“For someone to spend 12 years in prison for a sexual act that took place in the context of a long-term, caring relationship that was motivated by love—at least on Stubblefield’s part—and about which there is no evidence that it caused any harm is, in our view, outrageous,” he wrote.

Singer believes that D.J., who uses facilitated communication—a disputed form of keyboard typing—could have actually consented to sexual activity as Stubblefield asserts that he had typed his wishes to her.

“Over a two-year period in which she believes she communicated with him often and deeply, she came to love him and to believe that he loved her and indicated his wish to have sex with her,” he stated.

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Singer contended that none would have known that the two had sexual relations if Stubblefield and D.J. did not tell the family via facilitated communication.

“This is the action not of a sexual predator but of an honest and honorable woman in love,” the Princeton professor wrote. “Even if she is mistaken in her beliefs about his intelligence and ability to communicate, it is undeniable that these beliefs are sincere and that she was neither reckless nor negligent in forming them. This ought to have been a mitigating, if not wholly exculpating, consideration in the sentencing.”

“It seems reasonable to assume that the experience was pleasurable to him; for even if he is cognitively impaired, he was capable of struggling to resist, and … it is implausible to suppose that Stubblefield forcibly subdued him,” Singer stated.

But some have found Singer and McMahon’s remarks to be shocking. Nathan Robinson of Current Affairs called the op-ed “jaw-droppingly repulsive.”

“The New York Times therefore just published a philosophical defense of raping disabled people, and Peter Singer has—somehow—reached a new low on disability issues,” he wrote.

Singer has made statements before supporting the concept of ending the lives of disabled infants.

“When the death of a disabled infant will lead to the birth of another infant with better prospects of a happy life, the total amount of happiness will be greater if the disabled infant is killed,” he wrote in his book “Practical Ethics.” “The loss of happy life for the first infant is outweighed by the gain of a happier life for the second. Therefore, if killing the haemophiliac infant has no adverse effect on others, it would, according to the total view, be right to kill him.”


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  • Michael C

    How was it determined that this man referred to in court documents as “D.J.” was incapable of providing consent? I’ve read articles claiming that he’s literate and able to communicate. He was auditing a college level English class and, with assistance, he was writing papers on the reading materials.

    • Amos Moses

      i know 10 Y.O.s that can do that ….. so i guess its cool ………..

      • Michael C

        You know 10 year olds who audit college level English classes?

        Fancy.

  • Ambulance Chaser

    Profs. Singer and McMahon’s thesis (unaddressed here) is that the jury was not permitted to hear testimony that D.J. was, in fact, competent to consent to sexual relations. The judge in the case granted several motions to suppress certain exculpatory evidence and nothing I’ve read so far makes it clear why. Without knowing that, it’s impossible to tell whether justice was served.

    • Hegelian61

      Next stop, an Appeals court.

      • Ambulance Chaser

        Maybe, depending on why the evidence was suppressed. For instance, Singer indicates that the defense had intended to call a detective who would testify that D.J.’s typist told him she wasn’t in any of D.J.’s classes and didn’t read the same books, so she couldn’t possibly have known any of the information in his papers. Therefore, D.J. must be cognitively sound.

        That would be great information but unless it comes from the typist herself, it’s hearsay and definitely was properly suppressed.

  • Redboyds

    The old publicity sponge professor. Say something wacky, get attention. That sounds unethical, doesn’t it?

    • Ambulance Chaser

      What did Singer say that was “wacky?”

      • Robert

        That he claimed to know somthing about ethics.The guy and his family was the ones wronged. The witch should have been hung.

        • Ambulance Chaser

          There’s so much wrongness here I can’t respond to all of it. Aside from the fact that your disingenuous proposals violate at least five Constitutional provisions, why would you join the conversation if you don’t want to have a serious discussion about the issue?

          • Robert

            I never said i was a fan of the U.S. constitution and more importantly no where does the bible say i have to be.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Well, your discomfort with reality doesn’t alter the fact that it exists.

          • Robert

            it only exists for the rich and well connected Also lawyers and politicians and Judges to play with. freedom of speech also is much more free the richer and more connected a person is. you dont realy think your speech is as free as Turner of Turner broad casting or Richard Murdoc or Bill Buffet do you? Even you would not be so silly to think your speech is as free as George Zoros.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Yes, I absolutely believe that. Has anyone ever been arrested for saying something that George Soros, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet got away with saying?

  • airstart

    Right, wrong, indifferent, consent, or no consent, Peter Singer’s opinion would be the last one I’d trust on anything remotely ethical.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    No logic whatsoever here. Anything goes. Intimacy should be only within the marriage of one man and one woman. Period. If Anna is not married to the man, she should never have touched him. If she truly loved the victim, she’d have asked him to marry her first.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    This news is just another proof that the Liberals (Lefties) are wrong in everything.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      What do you believe was wrong about this story? Do you believe the jury was properly prevented from hearing exculpatory evidence? Why?

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        The liberals justify raping and killing those who are defenseless. If the woman truly loved the disabled man, she’d ask the person himself and the family a permission to marry instead of raping the defenseless man. Liberals would apply this kind of non-sense to pedophiles and other pervs, too. The reign of liberals is a nightmare to mankind.

        • Ambulance Chaser

          Another non-answer from Grace.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Look at the core matter. Legality means nothing in the absense of morality. There was no evidence the man consented.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Sure there was. The jury was prevented from hearing it. And I’m asking if you think that’s good or bad.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Why was the jury prevented? What was the reason for it?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            The editorial doesn’t say. Some reasons may be valid, others not.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Why do you take the side of rapists? You Westerners need the Holy Bible to become civilized again. I feel like talking to ancient Pre-christian savage Romans when I talk to unbelieving Americans.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I’m not taking the side of anyone. I’m taking the side of myself, arguing that you haven’t thought through your position very well.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            It’s wrong to take advantage of the disabled people. Stubblefild should have gotten a permission to marry the victim if she felt they loved each other.

        • Johndoe

          How do liberals justify raping and killing? Please provide proof

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            This news. He justifies raping of a disabled man. The same kind supports the abortion murder.

  • Robert

    the whole reason for prison time or capitol punishment is so familys dont have to take the punishment of the abuser into their own hands. In this case watching her swing from the barn rafters may have been better though especialy for this ethics proffesor to watch and see.