Tolerating Consensual Incest

No death penalty here folks. Last week, Columbia University professor and Huffington Post blogger David Epstein was charged with having a sexual relationship with his 24-year-old daughter.

Joining such notable perverts as pedophile photographer Matthew Mancuso and child rapist Patrick Kennedy, Epstein was described by one of his students as a “very nice guy” who was recently placed on administrative leave. According to the New York Daily News, Epstein and his child had a three-year sexual relationship and often exchanged “twisted text messages.”

Too bad Epstein didn’t commit his crime in Florida where Masha Allen’s father, Matthew Mancuso, was allowed to plead down from a death penalty to attempted sexual battery (attempted incest?). Instead, New York is charging him with one count of third-degree incest which could land him in prison for three to four years.

Now Epstein’s lawyer, Matthew Galluzzo, is rallying to his defense questioning why an allegedly consensual sexual relationship with an adult child should be illegal at all. According to the Huffington Post:

Professor David Epstein

“Academically, we are obviously all morally opposed to incest and rightfully so,” Galluzzo said. “At the same time, there is an argument to be made in the Swiss case to let go what goes on privately in bedrooms.”

“It’s OK for homosexuals to do whatever they want in their own home,” he said. “How is this so different? We have to figure out why some behavior is tolerated and some is not.”

Galluzzo also asked why consensual incest wouldn’t implicate Epstein’s daughter, whom prosecutors seem to be treating as victim, but who he said could “be best described as an accomplice.”

Galluzzo questioned if prosecuting incest was “intellectually consistent” with the repeal of anti-sodomy laws that resulted from Lawrence v. Texas in 2003. “What goes on between consenting adults in private should not be legislated,” he said. “That is not the proper domain of our law.”

Galluzzo continued: “If we assume for a moment that both parties [involved in incest] are consenting, then why are we prosecuting this?”

1 Reply to "Tolerating Consensual Incest"

  • Stephen
    October 24, 2011 (2:36 pm)

    Two things come to mind:

    1) there is so much coercive and manipulative possibility in a family, that to assume consent, as Galluzzo says, is an idiotic assumption.

    2) Can’t we just say there are certain things that are unacceptable, and that daddys and daughters should keep their private parts apart…so many fish out there in the sea, that it seems there MUST be something weird to make them need to break these taboos and laws.

    Who is being unreasonable?