1

Suppose a woman, Alice, contacts a man, Bob, about the possibility of his being a sperm donor for her. They reach an agreement for him to provide sperm without sexual intercourse.

Bob then demands that she have intercourse with him for the sperm donation. Alice demurs. Then Bob threatens to publicize the fact that she is looking for a sperm donor if she does not have intercourse with him. What laws has Bob broken in making this threat, and what crimes could apply to his actions if he makes good on his threat?

  • Why would a girl want to have babies with someone that she doesn't even want to have sex with? Doesn't having a baby is far more serious than merely having sex? – user4951 Mar 25 '18 at 19:21
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The law of Washington is probably typical. Under RCW 9A.56.110,

"Extortion" means knowingly to obtain or attempt to obtain by threat property or services of the owner, and specifically includes sexual favors.

By RCW 9A.56.130(1),

A person is guilty of extortion in the second degree if he or she commits extortion by means of a wrongful threat as defined in *RCW 9A.04.110(25) (d) through (j).

Then looking at the relevant definition of threat (please note that there is a numbering error in the statute, that should be (28), I don't know if they will fix it), it says

(28) "Threat" means to communicate, directly or indirectly the intent:...

(e) To expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; or

(f) To reveal any information sought to be concealed by the person threatened;

Second degree extortion is a class C felony. It is not first degree extortion, since that requires the threat to be

(a) To cause bodily injury in the future to the person threatened or to any other person; or

(b) To cause physical damage to the property of a person other than the actor; or

(c) To subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint;

Washington does not include a category of rape by extortion, though I've heard rumors that there is such a crime in some states. (It is not rape by forcible compulsion, second degree rape, because forcible compulsion is defined as "physical force which overcomes resistance, or a threat, express or implied, that places a person in fear of death or physical injury to herself or himself or another person, or in fear that she or he or another person will be kidnapped": that is, there has to be actual or threatened physical force)

  • Thank you for your answer. I have a follow up question though. Can 'Alice' tell the man that she will press charges for extortion only if he makes the information publicly available, or does her retroactively filing afterwards either make him no longer guilty of extortion or make her somehow guilty for extortion of her own by threatening to file charges only if he acted on his threat? I doubt that's the case, but just want to check – dsollen Aug 7 '17 at 15:45
  • The crime of extortion does not go away if the perp makes good on the threat. Alice doesn't "press charges", the prosecutor does, based on the information Alice provides. Alice need not respond to the perp in any way, but could educate him as to the criminal nature of the act that he has already done (i.e. can explain "you have already committed a crime"). I don't know why anyone would want to let an extortionist know that they can avoid prosecution, even if the victim does not actually act to bring about a prosecution. – user6726 Aug 7 '17 at 16:07
  • By chance it turns out she lives in Washington. However, when I look at the laws it seems like this would count as first degree extortion, since it would qualify as "A threat to reveal a victim's secret." why does this only qualify as 2 degree? I also saw 2 degree rape in Washington includes rape by "forcible compulsion", I take it this doesn't meet the criteria for forcible compulsion then? – dsollen Aug 7 '17 at 23:19

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