James Whitmarsh, U.K. Man, Acquitted Of Sexual Assault Charges Because Of Oysters

Jury Blames Oysters For Man's Sexual Assault

Oysters are famed as much for their aphrodisiac qualities as for their luscious taste and texture. But 41-year-old London man James Whitmarsh, a former BBC producer, can attest that you can get too much of a good thing.

Earlier this month, Whitmarsh was with friends at a restaurant in London's West End, enjoying himself by drinking wine and eating smoked salmon and oysters.

But all of a sudden, he started acting strange enough that his friends thought he had fallen ill; he was swinging his arms erratically and responding to questions with the word "honk." Assuming Whitmarsh was drunk, they called an ambulance. When the medics came to assist Whitmarsh, they found him still acting strangely -- but he wasn't out cold. He was active enough, anyways, that he was accused of grabbing the buttocks and legs of a female medic in a sexual manner.

The medic brought sexual assault charges against Whitmarsh, and he was brought before the Southwark Crown Court. An expert witness ascribed Whitmarsh's strange behavior not, as his friends thought, to intoxication -- but rather, to a toxin. He said that it was likely Whitmarsh had gotten sick from ingesting naturally occurring toxins in the oysters or possibly, scombroid poisoning from the salmon, imparing his motor function and causing him to act the way he did.

The jury was swayed by the expert's testimony, and acquitted Whitmarsh of the sexual assault charges after deliberating for just 40 minutes.

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