The lecherous millionaire is a hypothetical character who offers to pay for a woman's sick child's medical treatment in return for sexual favours. It's meant as a philosophy thought experiment to illustrate the concept of coercion.

I'm not thinking in terms of philosophy however, but rather about law. Assume that the lecherous millionaire is sincere: if the woman says yes he will keep his word to pay the medical bills, while if the woman declines he'll let her go without further comment. Does the lecherous millionaire violate any laws by making this offer? If the woman accepts, can she later claim rape? What about lesser charges like sexual harassment?

My guess is it's not rape - if the woman doesn't want sex, she can walk away - but I'm not sure about sexual harassment.

If the country matters, assume it is in the US (however I'm interested in all countries, and especially so if this situation has happened before).

  • This would be illegal anywhere where buying sex is illegal e.g. Canada.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 7:44
  • 2
    How that would this be different from any other type of prostitution ?
    – Hilmar
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 13:13
  • Sexual harassment is typically employment-related. If he offered to hire her with full family medical benefits, in return for sexual favors, that would be sexual harassment. Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


Under the assumption stated, the lecherous millionaire is soliciting an act of prostitution, albeit with an unusually high price. His proposal would be just as illegal (or legal) as an offer of $100 for a sexual encounter. In most jurisdictions it would be a crime.

George Bernard Shaw famously asked a woman if she would have sex with him (sleep with him, I think was the wording) for a million pounds, and she hesitated and eventually said "well yes, in that case". He then asked if she would for five pounds. Her reported answer was "Mr Shaw! What do you think I am?!" to which he rejoined "We have settled that, Madam. Now we are haggling about the price." This is much the same case -- legally the amount or nature of the price does not matter.

Whether this would also constitute sexual harassment would depend on the specific laws of the local jurisdiction.

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