Some New Jersey residents may have heard about an interesting criminal case that recently came to an end in Texas. The case involved a man who was accused of sexually assaulting a child. Although the man admitted to a doctor last September that he sexually assaulted a 5-year-old, he was found not guilty of aggravated sexual assault in the case earlier this month.

In court, the defendant claimed that he suffers from a disease commonly called sexsomnia and that he was not awake or aware of what he was doing at the time the alleged assault occurred.

Sexsomnia, like sleepwalking, is a condition that is not very well understood; however, it is thought to be a rare type of sleep disorder that is characterized by acting out sexually while sleeping. Because episodes of sexsomnia occur during a deep sleep, a person may not even recall that anything happened after he or she awakens.

In this recent case, the man took the child to a children’s hospital last fall and told a doctor that he sexually assaulted the girl while he was sleeping.

The jury did not reach the verdict in this case very easily. According to a news report, the jury was deadlocked until ultimately deciding not to convict the man.

When people are charged with sex crimes, especially if children are involved, the public tends to instantly assume that they are guilty. However, under New Jersey law, those who are charged with such crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In many cases, reasonable doubt does exist.

While sexsomnia is a rare defense in sex crimes cases, this is not the first time it has come up. This case is a reminder that allegations of sexual assault are often much more complicated than they seem on the surface.

Source: kcentv.com, “Man Not Guilty in “Sexsomnia” Assault,” July 1, 2013

Source: Everyday Health, “What is Sexsomnia?,” June 6, 2013