Sleep-Facilitated Sexual Assault

An Analysis of Case Data Featuring Female and Male Victims of Rape


  • Philip N S Rumney
  • Duncan McPhee



This note addresses a form of rape that is neglected in the scholarly literature. This form of offending occurs when a male uses his penis to vaginally, orally or anally penetrate a female or male who is sleeping at the time of the penetration. The data on which this note is based is gathered from a total sample of 441 police rape investigation case files, from which 39 of these sleep cases are identified. The note examines some of the characteristics of these cases, investigative trajectories through the criminal justice process and the behaviour of suspects. Given the neglect with which this issue has been treated, it is argued that further research would be beneficial so as to improve our understanding of the rape of those who are sleeping and the criminal justice and police response to this problem.

Keywords: rape; victims; suspects; sleep; police investigations.


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