In S.D. v. M.J.R. the New Jersey Appellate Division summarily rejected a 2009 Family Court judge’s ruling that a spousal sexual assault based upon the defendant’s belief that his Muslim faith permitted him to demand sex from his wife could not be found to violate the Domestic Violence Law.
The defendant in a domestic violence matter who repeatedly assaulted his wife, and forced her to have sexual intercourse, asserted that he was behaving according to his religious beliefs that as a husband he was permitted to have sex with his wife whenever he wanted to, and therefore his behavior was consistent with his religious beliefs and could not be prohibited by law!
The Appellate Division reversed the case on this issue and also ordered the lower court to enter a final restraining order based on the predicate acts of assault, harassment and the sexual crimes, in order to protect the plaintiff from future acts of domestic violence. Judge Payne determined that there is no basis upon which to deny a final restraining order finding that the husband knowingly engaged in acts that violated the sexual assault statute even if he subjectively believed that the law did not apply to him. A Family Part judge should not rely solely upon either criminal bail restraints or pending family actions to protect a victim of domestic violence.