Sunday, November 13, 2005

Application of rape shield statute to exclude victim's email message

[CASE] A recent case raises several issues about the trial of a juvenile as an adult. Here I'd like to highlight the final issue discussed in the case: whether it was error for the trial court to exclude an email message from the victim.

The defendant (Posey) and the alleged victim (H.A.H.) were high school classmates. Prior to or around the time the met Posey, H.A.H. wrote an email message to someone else describing some rape fantasies and saying she would like a boyfriend to choke her and beat her. The police made copies of emails from the H.A.H.'s computer. The defense wanted to introduce this one to show that H.A.H. consented to the violence and intercourse with Posey and to rebut her claim that she was afraid of him.

The trial court found that the email was highly prejudicial. The court noted that "[a]nybody who's had an e-mail correspondence with anybody knows it's easy to say things during that correspondence that you wouldn't necessarily say to their face."

After discussing limited situations when a victim's past sexual history can be admitted despite the rape shield statute (RCW 9A.44.020), Division 3 found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the email.
Find Result - 2005 WL 2982134

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