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'The Look in His Eyes': The Story of State v. Rusk and Rape Reform

Jeannie Suk Gersen

Harvard Law School

CRIMINAL LAW STORIES, Robert Weisberg, Donna Coker, eds., 2010
Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 10-23

This chapter for Criminal Law Stories (Robert Weisberg & Donna Coker eds., 2010), tells the story of State v. Rusk through the lens of rape law reform. Beginning in the 1970s, under the influence of feminism, some prevailing attitudes and expectations about sex between men and women started to change. Edward Rusk, like many guys, didn’t think he just had to stop because a girl who seemed interested said she didn’t want to have sex. He was convicted of rape at the cusp of legal transformation, when sexual behavior that had been socially commonplace was rapidly in the midst of being recast as criminal. Drawing on many interviews with lawyers, judges, and other people involved in the case, I tell the story of when and how a set of social norms of sex and dating became unacceptable. This is a story of the legal role and consequences of that social change.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: story, rape, acquaintance rape, date rape, sex, dating, force, consent, resistance, pressure, coercion, women, Baltimore, Maryland, criminal law, crime, trial, appeal, jury. social change, feminism, sexism, women's movement, social movement, rape reform, casebooks, divorce, custody, adultery

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Date posted: February 3, 2010 ; Last revised: March 26, 2016

Suggested Citation

Gersen, Jeannie Suk, 'The Look in His Eyes': The Story of State v. Rusk and Rape Reform. CRIMINAL LAW STORIES, Robert Weisberg, Donna Coker, eds., 2010; Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 10-23. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1546602

Contact Information

Jeannie Suk Gersen (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
HOME PAGE: http://hls.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/10869/SukGersen
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