'Sexsomnia' sufferer given absolute discharge
TORONTO - A Toronto man found not criminally responsible for sexually assaulting a woman because he suffers from sexsomnia will not face any restrictions on his freedom, the Ontario Review Board ruled Thursday.
Jan Luedecke does not pose a significant threat to public safety, the board said in granting him an absolute discharge.
"Mr. Luedecke has been living in a community without any difficulty whatsoever since the ... offence more than six years ago," the board wrote in its unanimous decision.
"The evidence falls far short of satisfying us that Mr. Luedecke remains a significant threat."
The board was responsible for determining what conditions, if any, were to be placed upon the landscaper who suffers from the rare sleep disorder.
A lawyer for the Attorney General's office argued that Luedecke remains a threat and wanted him to meet with a psychiatrist at least two times a year and limit his drinking to one alcoholic drink a day, among other conditions.
Both Luedecke's lawyer and counsel for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health successfully argued for an absolute discharge, saying he was no longer a threat.
The bizarre assault took place in the early hours of a July 2003 house party in Toronto.
The woman was roused from sleep following a croquet tournament in Toronto's Beaches community by a strange man lying on top of her, engaged in sexual intercourse.
"Who the hell are you and what are you doing?" the woman demanded, according to court documents.
"Jan," the bewildered-looking man replied.
Luedecke confessed to the sexual assault, during which he was wearing a condom. But his lawyers successfully argued in 2005 that the landscaper is among a tiny fraction of the population that suffers from sexsomnia.
In fact, court heard Luedecke had engaged in "sleep sex" with four former girlfriends prior to the assault.
Court later heard that Luedecke had taken magic mushrooms the day before the party and had consumed 12 beer, two rum-and-Cokes, and two vodka drinks in the hours leading up to the assault.
He was also overworked, overstressed, and sleep-deprived, court heard -- factors all cited by experts as triggers of sexsomnia.
The trial judge acquitted Luedecke on the grounds the he could not have formed the intent to commit the assault, further concluding that his condition did not qualify as a "disease of the mind."
That decision was quashed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2008, which ruled Luedecke instead should have been found not criminally responsible due to having a mental disorder.
His case was then sent to the review board, which can order a person to be committed to hospital, release them into the community on certain conditions, or grant an absolute discharge.
It has no power, however, to order an accused to submit to treatment without their consent.
In its decision, the board noted that although Luedecke had decided to stop taking medication he hadn't experienced any further episodes of "involuntary sexual activity" for four years.
The board's decision was largely based on two risk assessments, one carried out by forensic psychiatrist and the other by a forensic psychologist.
Psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Ramshaw, the board noted, acknowledged that Luedecke experienced "considerable shame and embarrassment" and a person showing such remorse was "less likely to repeat the behaviour."
In his report, Dr. Percy Wright wrote that Luedecke had taken steps to control his sexsomnia, including reducing his stress, limiting his alcohol consumption to two drinks a week or less, and sleeping "safely" with no access to women who aren't his partner.
Luedecke's victim read a statement to the board during the hearings, and "should be commended for having the courage" to do so, the board wrote.
"It was obvious to all members of the board that the victim is still experiencing tremendous difficulties arising from the events," it said.