The case of Saverland v Newton took place in 1837 in England and is a famous legal case that is often cited in discussions of self-defense and sexual assault. The case revolved around a young woman named Caroline Newton, who had bitten off part of the nose of Thomas Saverland, a businessman, after he forcibly kissed her at a party.
The events leading up to the incident began when Saverland attended a party hosted by Caroline’s father. At the party, Saverland became intoxicated and began making unwanted advances towards Caroline. According to reports, he grabbed her and forcibly kissed her, causing Caroline to bite off part of his nose in self-defense.
Saverland was outraged and took Caroline to court, seeking compensation for his injuries. The case went to trial, and the jury was instructed by the magistrate presiding over the case that Caroline would not be punished even if she was found guilty. This instruction was highly unusual for the time, as it was not typical for a magistrate to offer such a statement before a verdict was reached.
The trial lasted for several days, and both Saverland and Caroline gave testimony about what had happened at the party. Witnesses were called to give evidence, and the jury was given the task of deciding whether Caroline had acted in self-defense or if she had committed a criminal act.
After deliberating, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, finding that Caroline had acted in self-defense. The decision was seen as a victory for women’s rights, as it established the principle that a person has the right to use force to defend themselves against unwanted sexual advances.
The case received widespread media attention, and Caroline became something of a hero to women’s rights advocates. The case was also significant because it helped to establish the legal precedent that a person has the right to defend themselves against sexual assault and harassment.
Today, the case of Saverland v Newton is still cited in discussions of self-defense and sexual assault, and it remains an important moment in the history of women’s rights and the legal system.