State v. James Kirchner —acquitted
In September of 2008, James Kirchner went to trial in Oregon, charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse for touching a young girl inappropriately.
Mr. Kirchner had previously dated the mother of the girl and was staying with her at the time when authorities were sent to the home to check on the three children. A concerned neighbor had sent the Dept of Human Services to the house, concerned that the children were not eating properly and reporting that the young girl told her she had been touched inappropriately.
During the interview, the young girl said that Mr. Kirchner had rubbed her vagina.
Kirchner acknowledged to police that he knew about the child’s claims from her mother, but he denied any wrongdoing. He described an incident where he was having a sexual dream and woke up with his hand on the child’s leg. He said it was common for the children to fall asleep on the bed with him, and that the girl must have mistaken his actions.
Kirchner’s defense lawyer learned that he had a history of sleepwalking and talking in his sleep. Kirchner’s mother explained that, as a young man, he would speak a strange language while sleeping. Kirchner spent the first three years of his life in Germany, and had a German babysitter. Though Kirchner did not speak German as an adult, his mother would hear him talking in a strange language in his sleep. Further investigation revealed that language was a form of German that probably remained deep in Kirchner’s memory, surfacing only when he talked in his sleep.
Kirchner was found to be sleeping and, therefore, not responsible for his actions. He was acquitted on both counts.
Alan Ball Case (2007, England)—acquitted
In 2007, Alan Ball, of West Lancashire, England, went to a New Year’s Eve house party, drank heavily and fell asleep on a sofa. At some point during the night, he went upstairs and climbed into bed with an under-age girl and kissed her on the lips.
The 35-year-old truckdriver and father claimed he was sleepwalking at the time of the incident and had no memory of the events. During trial the court learned he had a personal and a family history of sleepwalking.
After expert testimony that Ball had no intention of abuse because he was sleeping, the allegations were dropped.