Elkington v. Proust – Case Brief Summary (Utah)

In Elkington v. Proust, 618 P.2d 37 (Utah 1980), a jury awarded damages to a young woman for emotional injuries suffered as a result of continued sexual assault during a period of seven years by the defendant, her step-father, who became her adoptive father.

The court ruled that "because the plaintiff was a minor, she was incapable of giving consent to acts of this nature." Id. at 40.

The court further noted that her consent,... would be an agreement for him to perpetrate a crime in violation of the protections our statute affords minors by prohibiting contributing to their delinquency; and would be so contrary to commonly accepted standards of decency and morality that any consensual agreement to engage in such conduct would be rejected by the law as against public policy and void. Wherefore, it is our conclusion that the court was justified in refusing defendant's request to instruct the jury that if the plaintiff consented she could not recover. Id.

In Elkington, the abuse was on-going and began when the victim was nine years old. The defendant was the abuser, not a third party who was alleged to have been a negligent contributor to her injuries.

Further, the Elkington victim was under the dominion of her abuser and consented to the continued abuse only because "'she was scared, and she didn't want to hurt her mother.... He told her, it would hurt her mother and they would be split up.'" Id. at 39.