Could REM Sleep Disorder put your loved one in jail?

Adam Kearns talks to KATU »Play Video
Adam Kearns talks to KATU about the nightmare he has faced since just before he was diagnosed with REM Behavior Disorder.

KEIZER, Ore. – Sleep disorders can go far beyond snoring and nightmares. Indeed, one Oregon family says that it's because of a recently-diagnosed sleep disorder that they're now living a nightmare. 

On Monday, Dr. Oz, who gives medical advice on a popular TV show, devoted a segment of his show to sleep disorders that can be dangerous. One of those conditions is REM Behavior Disorder.

"Normally during REM sleep your body becomes paralyzed," the show reported. "But this disorder short circuits the brain and the sleeper acts out the dreams: yelling, thrashing and even punching."

Local woman Randi Kearns watched that episode, and called KATU to tell us about the court battle she's now having to face because of her husband's REM sleep disorder.

Police arrested her husband, Adam Kearns, Feb. 20 for domestic violence after he punched her three times in the face. However, Adam – and Randi – say he was fast asleep.

Since the incident, Adam Kearns has been ordered by a judge not to have contact with his wife, Randi. The two have three boys, and have been living apart now for two months.

"Every day that I can't see her – it just (long pause) ..." Adam said. "She's my soul mate."

Adam said he still does not remember anything about those punches, was recently diagnosed with a "probable case" of REM Behavior Disorder. He has no previous criminal record.

Now Adam says it's destroying him that he can't see his wife. After all, they've been married 10 years and even his wife says – until this bizarre incident – he had never hurt her and never, intentionally, would.

He said it's frustrating that authorities don't believe him when it comes to this newly-diagnosed condition. "You can only tell somebody something so many times," he told us on Tuesday.

Randi said she was awake the night Adam punched her, having woken to the sound of her son crying. As she was getting out of bed Adam jumped up and punched her one, two, three times in the face ... and then fell back asleep.

Her parents, who were living with the couple at the time, said they ran into the room to find Adam snoring.

However, when they called an ambulance to tend to Randi's face, that's when things took an even bigger turn for the worse, the family says.

In Oregon, medical personnel are what is known as "mandatory reporters." That means they are required by Oregon law to report any domestic incidents involving violence to police.

Once Keizer police were notified, they say they are required – also under Oregon law – to make at least one arrest if an assault had occurred between household members. 

Adam has also been put on paid administrative leave from his job as a computer technician at the Department of Human Services.

Domestic abuse victim advocates laud the Oregon laws as a way to protect those who have been abused who are unable to stand up against their abuser.

Adam and Randi Kearn, however, say they're living proof that laws meant to protect the innocent also can hurt them.