In Linn County Circuit Court Thursday, a 46-year-old Albany man was found not guilty of sex abuse after claiming the defense of "sexsomnia" - that he was asleep when the alleged crime occurred.

In closing arguments at the end of a two-day trial, Prosecutor Douglas Prince and Corvallis defense attorney Karen Zorn reviewed the case:

The man's stepdaughter, then 10, had gotten into bed with the man and his wife. While in bed, the man was alleged to have in appropriately touched the girl.

The girl reported the incident to her mother and police were called. The man was arrested and later indicted on charges of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration and first-degree sexual abuse. Both are Measure 11 crimes with prison sentences of 100 months for sexual penetration and 75 months for sexual abuse.

The defense claimed that if the man did make contact with his stepdaughter it was while he was asleep and he had no memory of it. It also said the man had in the past had sexual contact with his wife while sleeping.

An expert for the defense testified that the man had signs of parasomnia, a sleeping disorder in which a person does something while sleeping such as sleepwalk or have sex, known to some as "sexsomnia."

While parasomnia is sometimes cited as a defense for crimes, sexsomnia is rarely used, said Circuit Court Judge John McCormick before he gave the verdict Thursday.

The judge said he believed the girl's testimony but the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the man committed the crimes "knowingly."

According to wikipedia.com, an online information resource, a court in Toronto, Canada, in 2005 acquitted a man of sexual assault after he was diagnosed with sexsomnia. In a case in Britain that same year, a man was cleared of three counts of rape on the same grounds. In the trial this week, the Albany man was also charged with endangering the welfare of a minor for having sexual contact with his wife while the daughter was nearby. He was found guilty on that count.

Sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 14. Endangering the welfare of a minor is a Class A misdemeanor and carries a possible fine of $5,000 and one year in prison.

The Democrat-Herald chose not to publish names involved in this case to protect the victim.

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