November 1, 2014

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Rape suspect’s defense claims victim was sleepwalking

CINCINNATI – A lawyer for the man accused of raping a University of Cincinnati student says the encounter could have been consensual because the woman has a history of sleepwalking.

Dexter Ford, 52, is charged with raping the 23-year-old woman early Thursday morning near Interstate 71 in Cincinnati.

Ford`s lawyer, Jeff Adams, said prosecutors told him the woman takes prescription medication and has a sleepwalking condition, a fact that will likely be the core part of Ford`s defense.

“It goes to consent,” he said. “How is he to know she is sleepwalking, if it`s a dream ‘yes` or a real ‘yes?` ”

Adams has not said if Ford spoke to the woman and whether she consented to sex.

Messages seeking comment were left with Adams on Saturday.

Two passing motorists reported seeing Ford on top of a woman near a White Castle restaurant on Taft Road near I-71 and called police from their cell phones, Cincinnati police said.

When police arrived, the woman was still asleep, according to police reports.

She was taken to University Hospital for treatment.

Hamilton County Municipal Judge Fanon Rucker said he also was told the victim sleepwalked through the encounter.

Rucker set bond for $500,000 and ordered Ford to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Ford told police he is HIV-positive, Rucker said.

During the past 15 years Ford, who is currently homeless, has served time in the Hamilton County jail and state prisons on charges including aggravated arson, breaking and entering, possession of illegal drug paraphernalia, theft and trespassing, court records showed.

Sleep medicines such as Lunesta and Ambien have been reported to cause sleepwalking in patients, said Dr. James Knepler, who specializes in sleep disorders at the University of Cincinnati`s Comprehensive Medicine Center.

Sleepwalkers typically look like they are in a daze, and may not respond to outside stimuli, he said.