Mary Coombs


Miss Hanson was a servant at a boarding house when she met Mr. Johnson in 1895. After a few months' acquaintance, they became engaged and began to sleep together. She vainly waited thirteen years for him to marry her, meanwhile bearing his child. Finally she sued and recovered $8000. Miss Hanson was not the first to respond to seduction and abandonment with a lawsuit. Miss Giese, another plaintiff, persuaded the jury in the Ripon municipal court that the defendant, Mr. Schultz, with the aid of a promise to marry her, "and his persuasions thereunder, seduced, debauched and carnally knew the plaintiff, and got her with child."2 The pregnancy miscarried, the defendant refused to keep his promise, and Miss Giese sued. The Wisconsin Supreme Court twice reversed verdicts in her favor, holding that the jury could compensate her for the loss of virtue and reputation and for mental suffering caused by seduction, but not for the miscarriage and its physical effects.

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