Disabled woman ‘capable of consent’

Published: Friday 24th October 2014 by The News Editor

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A 22-year-old woman who has a significant learning disability and a history of “abusive and exploitative relationships” with sexual partners does have the mental capacity to consent to sex, a judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Cobb said a social worker had told how the woman – who had been described as functioning like an immature child of 12 or 13 – had been the subject of “emotional, physical, financial and sexual harm”.

And the judge said he had “misgivings” about concluding that the woman, who had been assessed as having an IQ of 53, was mentally capable of consenting to sexual relations.

But he said the “professional consensus” was that she met the established legal test relating to mental capacity.

He said the issue should be kept under “careful review”.

Detail of the woman’s case has emerged in a written ruling by the judge following a hearing in the Court of Protection – where issues relating to sick and vulnerable people are analysed – in London.

Mr Justice Cobb said he had been asked to consider whether the woman had the mental capacity to make decisions in relation to a number of issues, including sexual relations, her care and where she lived.

He said he had heard evidence from a number of people, including the woman’s parents, a boyfriend, a former boyfriend, a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a social worker.

The woman was not identified but the judge said the local authority with responsibility for her welfare was Derbyshire County Council.

Published: Friday 24th October 2014 by The News Editor

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