Warning: This story is really really gross. However, there is an intriguing (if icky) legal point but you have to wait for it. A Swedish woman has been charged with necrophilia in Gothenburg. Police discovered various skeleton parts and skulls in her apartment including a picture of her licking a skull. They accuse her of having sex with the skeletal remains. However, is that truly necrophilia?
Under Swedish law, this might be easier to prove since they call it “violating the peace of the dead.” However, the woman is accused of intimacy with skeletal parts, though only the licking of the skull is specifically referenced. The woman had pictures of morgues and cemeteries and reportedly sold skulls over the internet.
Licking a skull would fall considerably short of necrophilia in most states. However, even if something more intimate is alleged, would sex with a skeletal part meet the elements of the crime. Here is a standard provision from Rhode Island:
§ 11-20-1.2 Necrophilia. – Any person who performs the act of first degree sexual assault upon a dead human body shall be guilty of the crime of necrophilia. Any person convicted of the crime of necrophilia shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten (10) years and may be fined in an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Is a skeletal part “a dead human body”? The crime is defined in terms of a “body” not a body part. It is the difference between grand theft auto for stealing a car as opposed to a chop shop crime of stealing car parts. Medical journals also refer to sex with a corpse as opposed to a skeleton. Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary 1102 (15th ed. 1985) (“necrophile” defined as “one who has a morbid interest in dead bodies or who has intercourse with corpses.”_
Other states like California read sexual relations into more general laws:
Health and Safety Code section 7052 provides: “Every person who willfully mutilates, disinters, or removes from the place of interment [*544] any human remains, without authority of law, is guilty of a felony.”
Under the more expansive Swedish definition, any bone would satisfy the element of a corpse even though it is no longer part of a corpse. It seems that such crimes are better charged under body part statutes and illegal handling of remains, if that is a crime. What is interesting is that skeletons have been widely sold around the world and thus not treated as corpses in terms of handling or possession. Do all of those schools and individuals have corpses in their possession if they have a skull or skeleton on the wall?
What do you think?
Source: Local as first seen on Reddit