Judge Allows Zoloft Defense in CA Rape Case


A former southern California police detective and Iraq war veteran charged with rape will be allowed to argue that an over-prescription of antidepressants for combat-related PTSD left him “mentally unconsciousness.” “But for the use of Zoloft, Mr. Orban would not have committed these acts” his lawyer asserted to the court. “…This was totally out of character.” If found not guilty according to this defense, Orban would face an indefinite sentence in a state mental hospital.

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The Big Chill: Psychiatric Medications Now Are on Trial For Murder (MadinAmerica.com)
Army Restores PTSD Diagnoses in a Servicewide Review (MadinAmerica.com)
Former Cop Will Use ‘Zoloft Defense’ In Disturbing Rape Case
Former cop’s rape trial: Zoloft defense can be used
Accused Rapist Can Use ‘Zoloft Defense’
Anthony Nicholas Orban, Ex-Westminster PD Detective, Blames Rape of Waitress on Meds for Stress
Ex-cop on Zoloft, mentally ‘unconscious’ during rape, lawyer says
Orban defense to feature unusual move


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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. The irony… is making me head hurt. If he’s found not guilty, he’s going to a mental hospital for an indefinite period of time, where he will be forced to take all sorts of drugs, which his defense would have successfully argued were what was responsible for the crime in the first place… Wow.

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    • I agree. I resisted putting this piece up for several days, because the levels of irony, complexity, dark implications and potential precedents were painful to think about when it was just a hypothetical defense, however valid that defense may turn out to be. But I just couldn’t get on the prurience bandwagon. Not to mention how awful it is to contemplate all these implications in respect to the issues we discuss here, when it’s impossible to also ignore how awful, whatever happens or happened to him, the experience of the woman was and, I’m sure, still is. But now that the judge has allowed the plea, it starts to become something greater on a social level, and I felt I had to post it here to be part of the discussion. I just wanted to say it was not an automatic or easy thing for me to do.

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      • Indeed, the moral complexities are huge.

        However, it does fit a pattern of psychiatric drugs (especially SSRI’s) being implicated in acts of both violence and sexual acts that are out of character to the individual.

        No matter what the individual implications of this case, and the moral questions raised, it raises serious public health concerns about the safety and validity of prescribing these medicines.

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        • Absolutely. It was just hard to post this one because of the particular crime, and the possibility that the drugs were not the cause. If a history of such behavior were to come out, it would discredit the Zoloft defense for a long time. But when the judge agreed to hear it, I hoped it would turn out to be proveable.

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