Pittsylvania Co., VA - Attorney Elmer Woodard says he had never heard of "sexsomnia" before this case but he has done a lot of internet research to learn more about it.
"There have been 5 or 6 cases where it has been a viable legal defense sense the late nineties, " he said.
All of those cases have been in Canada or overseas, but his client, Gary Johnson, could possibly be the first in the U.S. to use the defense successfully - outside of a TV series.
"It's been the subject of a House episode and a Law and Order episode, so we're going to explore whether it applies," he said.
It all started when Johnson was indicted for sexual battery and indecent liberties with a minor for an alleged incident involving a 15 year-old-girl.
The defense has been granted two continuances to have Johnson evaluated by a professional, but a recent sleep study only found that he suffers from sleep apnea.
Woodard says it's hard to find a professional who's familiar with the condition.
"It's been a challenge. Mr. Johnson is handling that, " said Woodard, but he hopes to find out soon whether the defense is appropriate for his client or not.
"It's one thing to be a rumor on the internet. It's another thing to actually be a successful legal defense in court. I'm satisfied that there is a decent possibility at least that it is not a flimsy excuse, it is an actual disorder, " Woodard said.
The lawyer says the defense shares similarities with an insanity plea, but it is not the same.
Johnson is due back in court on November 20th.
Pittsylvania Co., VA - A Danville man is using an unusual medical defense in Pittsylvania County Court to fight child molestation charges.Gary Johnson's lawyer is claiming his client may suffer from a condition known as sexsomnia, which is performing sexual acts while sleeping.
Johnson, 37, is the first person to attempt such a defense in Pittsylvania County. His lawyer says if he is successful, he would likely be the first in the U.S.
Last Thursday, a judge agreed to delay the trial so Johnson could be evaluated for NREM Arousal Parasomnia, known as sexsomnia.
His lawyer says the condition causes sufferers to unknowingly perform sex acts in their sleep.
Johnson is charged with sexual battery and indecent liberties with a minor for an alleged incident last year involving a 15-year-old girl.
Woodard says his client cannot be found responsible if he can prove that Johnson was not aware of what he was doing.
"I'm satisfied that there is a decent possibility at least that it is not a flimsy excuse, it is an actual disorder, " Woodard said.
He says his client has not being diagnosed yet.
They are still hoping to find a psychologist with enough knowledge of the condition to evaluate him.