Women Have Been Drugged and Raped by Men for Centuries. This Medieval Woman Fought Back — and Won.
In southwest England in 1292, Isabella Plomet brings a legal complaint against Ralph de Worgan, a local physician. She alleges that he abused his medical position to drug and rape her.
Drug- or alcohol-facilitated sexual assault is perceived by many as a recent concept, with campuses and anti-rape activists mobilizing to raise awareness. But this remarkable case, recently discovered by medieval historian Gwen Seabourne — with its distant echoes of the Bill Cosby trial — shows how a 13th-century jury recognized sex with an intoxicated person as assault and punished the perpetrator accordingly.
The records suggest that de Worgan was something of a predator. Isabella had originally gone to Ralph complaining of pain in her lower leg. De Worgan was apparently told her that he could cure her, but only if she traveled with him to the neighboring town of Ross-on-Wye. Like a good patient, she obeyed her doctor’s orders — “stuck to his advice” (adhesit consilio, in the original Latin) — and agreed to the trip.