The Slatest

Professor Accused of Using “Ouija” Method to Justify Sexually Abusing Disabled Man

Actual neurosciences research.

Photo by PHILIPPE MERLE/AFP/Getty Images

A Rutgers-Newark professor is on trial for sexual assault of a disabled man in a bizarre and disturbing criminal case out of New Jersey. Last week, a psychologist testified that the disabled man—who was a patient of Anna Stubblefield when she started having sexual encounters with him—was unable to consent to sexual activity, according to NJ Advance Media.

Stubblefield met the man, who suffers from cerebral palsy and other ailments, in 2009 and soon after began treating him using a controversial technique called “facilitated communication.” Stubblefield has argued that the technique allows disabled people to type on a keyboard with the help of a facilitator, but the approach has been compared to using a Ouija board and called invalid by the American Psychological Association and the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. The judge in the case has refused to allow expert testimony on the method because it is “not a recognized science.”

Stubblefield had claimed that she and the man had fallen in love and that he consented to a sexual relationship, a stance that was rebutted by a psychologist on the stand last Thursday.

From NJ Advance Media

Dr. Paul Fulford said he reached that conclusion after a 2011 evaluation in which the man, known as D.J., did not communicate with him. Fulford conducted the examination at the request of Essex County prosecutors.

“My final opinion, essentially the bottom line, was that he was not competent to give consent to sexual activity,” Fulford testified. “It’s a question of does he have the understanding to consent to it.”

D.J.’s mother and legal guardian has testified that the now 34-year-old man wears diapers and needs help to walk, bathe, get dressed, and eat, NJ Advance Media reports. His brother has testified that he does not speak, aside from making sounds that could not be interpreted by experts.