May 24, 2019 | 60° F

Rutgers-Newark professor charged with sexual assault of disabled man

Photo by Essex County Correctional Facility |

Former Rutgers-Newark professor Anna Stubblefield admitted to having sexual contact with a disabled man who has cerebral palsy. She claimed the two were able to communicate with each other. 

Former Rutgers—Newark Professor Anna Stubblefield admitted to having criminal sexual contact with a disabled man who was unable to speak and is now facing charges and a sentencing for her actions, according to NJ Advance Media

The defendant claimed for years that she and D.J., a man with cerebral palsy, had fallen in love and were able to communicate with each other, after D.J.’s brother, a Rutgers student, introduced the two. Her guilty plea on Monday admits to third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact that will likely end in a four-year prison sentence, as recommended by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. 

In her plea, Stubblefield admitted that she should have known that D.J. was unable to consent to sex under the law. 

This is not the ex-professor’s first criminal sexual contact charge. Stubblefield, 48, from West Orange, was charged with sexually assaulting D.J. in her Newark office in 2011, as reported by NJ Advance Media. She was indicted in January 2013 on two counts of aggravated sexual assault. 

During that time, Rutgers placed her under administrative leave without pay and retracted her title as chairwomen of the Department of Philosophy. 

She was convicted of aggravated sexual assault again in 2015 and was set to be behind bars for 12 years, but an appellate court reversed the court decision on the grounds that the judge should have allowed an expert testimony about a controversial communication technique, called facilitated communication, that Stubblefield claimed that D.J. used to express his sexual consent. 

In 2016, D.J.’s family was awarded $4 million in compensatory and punitive damages. 

During the trial on Monday, prosecutors argued that the victim who could only make sounds, had an impaired mental state and was therefore unable to legally consent to sex. 

The trial judge determined facilitated communication is an “unrecognized field of science," according to NJ Advance Media.

Stubblefield’s sentencing is scheduled for May 7. 

Erica D'Costa

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