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Oregon v. Rideout

Lose One, Win Some

On 27 December 1978, after three hours of deliberations, the jury found John Rideout not guilty. A member of the jury, Pauline Speerstra, told the press afterward that the validity of Oregon's law had not been an issue in reaching their verdict. Rather, she said, since "we didn't know who to trust," the jury had reached its verdict based upon a finding of reasonable doubt.

Although John was acquitted, the publicity his trial afforded Oregon's law made many feel, as one newspaper editorial put it, that "an end to the common-law notion that rape is permissible in marriage is long overdue. A society that considers it a crime for a man to beat his wife should certainly consider it a crime for him to assault her sexually." By the early 1990s, only four states retained marital exemptions for rape.

Many recall that the couple reconciled two weeks after the trial. What is often forgotten is that the Rideouts separated three months later and finally divorced. Moreover, John Rideout later broke into Greta Rideout's home and received a suspended sentence. Continuing to harass her, he later went to prison.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Oregon v. Rideout - Significance, Does Marriage Mean Consent?, No Help From Friends . . ., Lose One, Win Some