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A college student who alleges an ex-boyfriend sexually assaulted her has sued him in North Carolina using a seldom-argued common-law tort barring men from using deceptive tactics to “wrongfully seduce and debauch” chaste or virginal women. The woman, Nora Lindsey Kantor, was a student at Duke University in 2001 when, she alleges, a student she was dating, James Swoyer Thompson, forced sex upon her after a fraternity Christmas party. Kantor, a junior who has since enrolled at Ohio State University, alleges that her date, Thompson, a senior, had been drinking heavily. She says they were engaged in consensual kissing and petting in his room after the party when Thompson began putting on a condom. Kantor was a virgin, the suit says. She contends that she told him she didn’t want to engage in sex and felt “paralyzed with fear” as he proceeded anyway. WRONGFUL SEDUCTION? The civil-seduction claim was one of five lodged against Thompson. The suit alleges he “wrongfully seduced and debauched” Kantor by “persuasion, deception, enticement and artifice.” The complaint alleges that she “was quiet at first and then she said, ‘Jim, stop.’ ” It says Thompson stopped “ shortly thereafter.” The lawsuit says that when Kantor asked him how many times a woman must say no “before you get it through your head,” he replied, “I thought you changed your mind.” She sued him and his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, in state court. Kantor v. Thompson, No. 02-CVS-5343 (Durham Co., N.C., Super. Ct.). In his answer, Thompson says the sexual act began consensually and ceased when she “said she was not sure that she wanted to continue.” Kantor did not press criminal charges against Thompson, according to her attorney, Laura Keohane of Durham, N.C. Asked why, Keohane said that her client instructed her to pursue the civil remedy. “She’s a strong lady,” Keohane said. “She’s been through a lot of pain. And it still hurts, but she’s determined to stand up for herself.” Defense attorney Andrew Vanore of Raleigh, N.C.-based Brown, Crump, Vanore & Tierney said he plans to move for a dismissal of the claim “at the appropriate time.” In his answer, Vanore argues that the consensual nature of the encounter is a complete bar to all of Kantor’s claims. The defense attorney said the civil-seduction claim is rooted in outdated presumptions of male dominance and female vulnerability. “Mr. Thompson denies completely the allegations and is vigorously defending them in this civil action,” Varnadore said. The civil-seduction theory is rooted in now-discarded social customs that once effectively made wives and daughters property of their fathers and husbands. Any man who seduced a chaste or virtuous woman was thought to be inflicting a loss of service on fathers or husbands. State supreme court cases, some dating as far back as the 1930s, described such lawsuits as rare. Some were filed by parents against men they accused of seducing their teen daughters. In some cases, single, adult women sued on their own behalf after being seduced with false promises of marriage. The complaint also accuses the fraternity of negligence, alleging that the group had previous problems with date rape and alcohol abuse on the campus. David Lewis, the Durham lawyer representing Sigma Alpha Epsilon Inc., said the chapter at Duke, now disbanded, was an unincorporated association, making it an independent legal actor. “Sigma Alpha Epsilon Inc. has no right to control the actions of individual members or individual chapters and we exercise no such control,” said Lewis of Durham’s Bryant, Patterson, Covington & Idol. “This is a suit that seems to relate to [the activities of] two individuals.”

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