Intentional Sex Torts

43 Pages Posted: 9 May 2008 Last revised: 9 Feb 2013

See all articles by Deana Pollard-Sacks

Deana Pollard-Sacks

Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Date Written: December 2008


Intentional tort law generally protects personal autonomy and self-determination vigorously by requiring fair disclosure before consent to physical contact is considered voluntary and valid. A glaring exception exists relative to consent to sexual relations. Although American law historically has provided remedies for fraudulent or other tortious inducement of sexual relations, current sex tort jurisprudence offers virtually no protection. The law's contemporary caveat emptor approach to cases of sexual autonomy infringement is inappropriate because it departs from fundamental principles of intentional tort doctrine. In addition, the current law supports false norms that sexual misappropriation is acceptable. Current law fails to protect personal privacy, and fails to engage the law's potential to influence social conduct positively.

Intentional sex tort law should be reformed so that it is consistent with prevailing sexual norms and principles of intentional tort doctrine. Allegations of tortious interference with sexual autonomy should be analyzed consistent with traditional battery jurisprudence bearing on the issues of intent to offend and offensive contact. Exceptions to the defense of consent should also be adopted. The fraud exception should apply, utilizing established principles of materiality and justifiable reliance. In addition, the law should acknowledge a heightened duty of disclosure between sexual partners consistent with informed consent doctrine, to encourage honest and fairly-informed personal relationships.

Keywords: Sex Torts, Sexual Fraud

Suggested Citation

Pollard-Sacks, Deana, Intentional Sex Torts (December 2008). Fordham Law Review, December 2008. Available at SSRN:

Deana Pollard-Sacks (Contact Author)

Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law ( email )

3100 Cleburne Street
Houston, TX 77004
United States

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