This is the question the Maryland Court of Appeals had to address this past month.
The scenario: The Victim, then 18, agreed to give the defendant, then 16, and Wilson (defendant's male companion) a ride to a party, she testified. The three wound up in the victim's car, where the boys allegedly sexually assaulted her in multiple ways before the defendant got out of the car and Wilson had sex with the victim. The boys then switched places; the defendant asked the victim for sex and told her he “didn’t want to rape her,” she testified.
The victim testified that she consented to sex with the defendant because the boys had told her she could leave “as soon as we’re done,” but that she told the defendant he had to stop when she told him to. After penetration, she cried that it hurt, told him to stop and tried to push him off, but he continued for between five and 10 seconds, she testified.
While I agree that, by consenting to sex, you are not waiving your autonomy until the act is completed and that a woman should have the right to withdraw consent at any time, I could see this ruling causing potential problems.
Could this decision, asserting that the amount of time after consent is withdrawn but before the act is ceased does constitute as rape, cause more damage to rape proceedings than good? For example, do you think it will lend credence to women alleging rape simply because they regretted their decision?
Also, do you feel as though, that period of time (5-10 seconds, in this case) should be regarded no differently than traditional rape that involves no consent at any point, and should be sentenced as such?