TAMPA --- A disturbing new bedroom trend involves men secretly taking off their condoms during consensual sex, and sometimes later bragging about it online.
The nonconsensual practice, which is called "stealthing," is on the rise, according to a new report in Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.
Lead author Alexandra Brodsky said while the law is largely silent on the practice of "stealthing," she believes it should be considered a form of sexual assault and could violate several civil and criminal laws.
In the report, Brodsky profiles a doctoral student named Rebecca who works for a local rape crisis hotline. Rebecca, who was the victim of stealthing as a freshman, said she hears about stealthing from students and says many callers start with, ‘I’m not sure this is rape, but…’
Kathleen Kempke, with the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, says she's aware of the trend.
“I have had other cases that I've been very similar to this,” said Kempke.
As far as the crisis center is concerned, a person who feels violated is a victim, she said.
“And they deserve the same kind of services and support that a victim that is raped by a stranger or a raped by an acquaintance would get,” said Kempke.
The study also pointed to online forums where men often brag about removing a condom during sex or offer advice on how to get away with it. Some of the men in the forum have even suggested it's their right to, "spread one's seed".
As far as using existing statutes to prosecute stealthers in Florida, “As of yet, that statute does not exist,” said Tampa Defense Attorney Hunter Chamberlain.
Chamberlain says stealthing, while despicable, could be difficult to prove as a sexual assault, since the sex itself was initially consensual.
“To change this from a legal behavior to an illegal behavior, the legislature or the courts are going to have to further define what consent means,” said Chamberlain.
The study concludes existing laws don't specifically cover stealthing, despite the heightened risk of pregnancy and even public health risk associated with spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
Brodsky concludes that new protections should be in place for those who are victims of the practice.
"Ultimately, a new tort for “stealthing” is necessary both to provide victims with a more viable cause of action and to reflect better the harms wrought by nonconsensual condom removal," she said in the paper.