Groping May Actually Be Legal In Two States

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After Trump bragged that he could "grab [women] by the pussy," people from all over the political spectrum condemned such groping as sexual assault. But his claim that he could get away with this may have been partially correct. Two states have no specific laws against groping, Mic reports. Idaho outlaws "assault and battery," which encompasses "intentional and unlawful touching," but doesn't elaborate on what that means. Mississippi law deems "attempts by physical menace" illegal, but again, it's unclear if this includes sexualized touching. Most states with laws around groping — which usually falls under another category like battery or forcible touching — consider it a misdemeanor. But it rarely reaches the courts in the first place. Jennifer Long, a legal expert on sexual violence, told The New York Times that adults almost never report being groped, especially by people they know. The federal government has yet to directly address the issue. Verbal harassment is also rarely punished, according to Stop Street Harassment, despite the fact that 65 percent of women have experienced it, a study by the same organization found. When pressing criminal charges isn't viable, it's also possible to file a lawsuit against someone accused of groping, but juries don't typically punish this offense harshly. "I’ve seen a definite shift in what facts out there are needed to grab a jury’s attention, because it has to have shock value," Nancy Sheehan, a lawyer who works on sexual harassment cases, told The Times. "We’ve become an overly sexualized society, and in most cases, a grope doesn’t grab anyone’s attention anymore — unless you happen to be a famous presidential candidate."

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