Man faces rape charges for sex with dementia suffering wife

Apr 7, 2015
Crime
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henry rayons

They started flirting in choir, the vivacious retiree and the grandfatherly politician, both single after the deaths of their long-time spouses. Less than two years later, they were married in the church where they met, surrounded by a gaggle of children and grandchildren and hundreds of guests dancing the polka. It was an unexpected second chance at love for Donna Lou Young and Henry Rayhons, both past 70 at the time of their wedding.

“They were two good people who were good together,” the couple’s pastor recalled.

henry rayons

After a four-year battle with Alzheimer’s, Donna Lou Rayhons died in a nursing home in August, just four days shy of her 79th birthday. A week later, Henry Rayhons was arrested and charged with sexual abuse. State prosecutors accused him of having sex with his wife while she was incapacitated by dementia.

Rayhons’s trial, which begins Wednesday, is a rare and possibly unprecedented examination of a little-explored aspect of consent. While much of the discussion about rape these days swirls around the influence of drugs, alcohol and the culture on college campuses, the Rayhons case asks a much different question: When is a previously consenting spouse suffering from dementia no longer able to say yes to sex?

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