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Idaho Law Review





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Seduction is a historical cause of action that permitted women's fathers to bring suit on their daughters' behalf in sexual assault and rape cases. This tort emerged long ago when the law's refusal to recognize women's agency left this as the only means of recovering damages in these cases. As time went on, the tort evolved, and women were eventually permitted to bring lawsuits for seduction on their own behalf. Today, most states have abolished seduction, along with other torts permitting recovery for damages arising from intimate conduct. One could be easily forgiven for thinking that such an archaic tort still exists in the laws of Idaho.

But one would be wrong. This article argues that despite the Idaho Supreme Court's abolition of the "heartbalm" torts of alienation of affections (a plaintiff suing a person who enticed their spouse to end a marriage) and criminal conversation (a plaintiff suing someone who had sex with their spouse), the tort of seduction lives on. Unlike the common law actions of alienation of affections and criminal conversation, seduction is based in statutes dating back to before Idaho became a state. As much as Idaho's Supreme Court has critiqued heartbalm torts for being outdated and prone to abuse, these reasons are insufficient to abolish the statute-based tort of seduction.

While seduction is still good law in Idaho, it doesn't follow that it ought to remain law. The gendered language of Idaho's seduction statutes renders them vulnerable to an equal protection challenge. And the existence of alternate causes of action to seek recovery for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape now perform the damage recovery function that seduction used to address. While this Article make the case for the factual existence of Idaho's law of seduction the many shortcomings and vulnerabilities the law faces suggest that Idaho's law of seduction shouldn't be long for this world.

Recommended Citation

Michael L. Smith, Idaho's Law of Seduction, 59 Idaho L. Rev. 291 (2023).



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