In September I wrote about two men who'd been arrested in Brush Prairie, Washington, for allegedly holding a third man against his will as a "sex slave." On November 26, The Columbian reported that the charges of rape, kidnapping, and assault against William Fritsch and Michael Wilson were being dismissed. Prosecutors examined e-mails exchanged between Fritsch and Wilson and the Seattle man who accused them of kidnapping him, and the e-mails apparently convinced prosecutors that the purported victim knew exactly what he was agreeing to. Senior Prosecutor Tom Duffy said there were "ample grounds" to find that everything was consensual. One of the defense attorneys, Tom Phelan, stated, "The guy clearly knew what was going on." Defense attorney Gerry Wear said the man had a fantasy of being kidnapped, and theorized that he may have called police as an extension of that fantasy.

Wow. And people think submissives are the only people taking a risk in the SM scene. Imagine having your whole life turned upside down because somebody didn't know where a fantasy ended and the real world began. I feel sorry for Fritsch and Wilson--this completely sucks.

The case has stirred discussions in the BDSM community about dealing with false accusations. It's a tough situation: I don't know how Wilson and Fritsch feel they were treated by the police, but I know that cops should take it seriously when someone claims to have been kidnapped and raped. I do want more SM-friendly cops and courts, but I don't want a return to the "Ah, they were asking for it" school of thought about sexual assault.

So how to ensure that an unbalanced or disgruntled submissive play-partner won't call 911 after a consensual scene? Here's my answer: You go slow, you get to know someone, and you build mutual trust. Or else you realize the person's not trustworthy, and you bail.

I don't mean you can't ever play with folks you've just met--I certainly do. But suit the scene to the level of trust in the relationship. There is a big difference between putting people you just met over your knee and slapping their ass and arranging a mock-kidnapping scene via e-mail. Yes, the sexy-stranger kidnapping is a hot fantasy. But not all fantasies can be fulfilled exactly as we wish. Gamble on your instincts and play heavy with strangers if you must--but understand that you could end up doing the perp walk on the local news.