By Mail Foreign Service
Man who raped his daughter, 4, walks free after claiming he suffered from ‘sexsomnia’
Belgium was rocked by a new paedophile scandal yesterday after a court acquitted a man of raping his four-year-old daughter because he claimed he was asleep at the time.
In a judgment condemned as ‘the summit of perversity’ and ‘an open door for paedophiles’, an appeal court decided there was no proof the 30-year-old father was awake and that therefore he should have the benefit of the doubt.
The man, identified only as Frederic L, admitted the assault, but he told the court in Mons, West Belgium, that he suffered from a very rare condition called ‘sexomania’ which led him to have sex while asleep.
He was accused of raping the girl when she woke him up to open the door to the toilet.
He said that he came to his senses when his daughter began to scream: ‘Papa it’s me. It’s me.’
The man told a court in Mons: ‘This is a sexual version of sleepwalking. I was deeply ashamed when I found out what was happening.’
The divorced man, 30, had been drinking with his friends before going to bed in the same room as his daughter.
The girl told her grandmother what had happened and she reported her father to the police.
In court defence lawyer Yves Degratie said: ‘My client has had sleep problems for a long time. When he was living with the girl’s mother he often had sex with her in his sleep.
‘He could not remember what happened with his daughter the next day. He is deeply sorry. But he could do nothing about it. He was powerless.’
Police psychiatrist Chris Dillen confirmed that sexsomnia is a rare medical condition and he knew of a similar case where a man raped his own daughter in his sleep.
‘You have people who talk or walk in their sleep. You have others who eat cakes and take things from the fridge. And you have a few who want to have sex,’ he added.
The public prosecutor dropped the case. State prosecutors had asked for an eight-year prison sentence.
But the girl’s mother was shocked by the court’s ruling. ‘This verdict gives a green light to all rapists and paedophiles to escape the law,’ she said.
The public prosecutor is appealing against the ruling.
The case will damage Belgium’s attempts to shake off its reputation as a hotbed of paedophiles. It revived memories of Marc Dutroux, who was jailed for life in 2004 for kidnapping and abusing six girls, four of whom he killed.
Sexsomnia, also called sex sleep, was first identified in 1996 and is a classified sleep disorder characterized as a non-rapid-eye-movement (N-REM) parasomnia.
There have been several cases of people being acquitted of sexual assault because they were sleepwalking.
Last year lorry driver lan Ball, 35, of Ormskirk, Lancashire, was charged with sexual assault but experts who examined his history of sleepwalking concluded he had not known what he was doing and he was cleared by a judge.
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