National News

Appeals court: No means no, and so does 'unh-unh'

Posted January 18, 2018 1:43 p.m. EST

— The Utah Court of Appeals upheld a conviction for a Salt Lake man accused of sexually assaulting a woman he claimed "never directly said no," but instead responded "unh-unh" to his advances.

Michael Aaron Cady, 30, had sought to overturn a jury's decision finding him guilty of object rape, a first-degree felony, telling the Utah Court of Appeals that when he had made advances to the woman sleeping on the couch, she had ultimately consented to the encounter.

In a decision handed down last week, three judges from the Utah Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to uphold the conviction, finding there was not sufficient inconsistency or improbability in the case to overturn the jury's September 2015 decision.

"No means no. So does 'unh-unh,' especially when accompanied by a host of other nonverbal cues - such as pushing an assailant away, turning away from him, crying, and curling up in fetal position," Judge David Mortensen wrote in the decision's opening statement.

According to court documents, the woman, who was a friend of Cady's wife, was asleep on the couch in the home while another woman was "passed out" on the floor. When Cady came in, knelt beside the couch and began to touch and kiss the woman, she told police she turned away from him and told him "unh-unh."

When Cady tried to remove her pants, the woman said she curled her legs up and held onto her clothes as Cady sexually assaulted her.

In a recorded interview with police, which was played for the jury, Cady said the woman's body language was "back and forth" during the encounter and agreed "logic would be to take that as no," according to the judges' decision.

During the interview, the decision notes that Cady admitted to the sexual contact, going on to say that he had made a mistake and that he "felt like the biggest piece of (expletive) in the world."

After sexually assaulting her, the woman told police Cady left the room, then returned five minutes later and had nonconsensual sex with her, according to court documents. She also reported he had had nonconsensual sex with her about a year earlier.

Cady was charged with two counts of rape, a first-degree felony, for those encounters, but was acquitted by the jury. The court of appeals denied Cady's claim that because the jury had found him not guilty on those charges, they couldn't convict him for the object rape charge.

Cady is currently incarcerated in the Utah State Prison. He was sentenced in November 2015 to at least five years and up to life behind bars.

Those who have experienced sexual abuse or assault can be connected to trained advocates through Utah's statewide 24-hour Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 888-421-1100.