Saturday, January 16, 2010

Admissibility of Past Acts of Sexual Abuse

RCW 10.58.090, added in 2008, allows trial courts to admit evidence of prior sexual misconduct in sex offense cases, even if it would be excluded under ER 404(b). The evidence must still be admissible under ER 403.

Last month, Division I upheld the statute's constitutionality over a variety of objections by a man convicted of molesting his granddaughter after a trial that included the testimony of several other relatives he had molested when they were girls. State v. Scherner, No. 62507-1-I, Findlaw (Dec. 21, 2009).

The court cited (n. 12) a comment by a current UW student: Blythe Chandler, Comment, Balancing Interests Under Washington's Statute Governing the Admissibility of Extraneous Sex-Offense Evidence, 84 Wash. L. Rev. 259 (2009) (abstract). See UW Law news release.

The bulk of the opinion discusses the constitutional challenges to the statute. An unpublished part, at the end, deals with a few other claims, including whether the jury was tainted by seeing a Seattle Times article, Rape trial lets family share decades of pain, secrets, Seattle Times, Aug. 19, 2008 (four jurors saw the headline and picture; none said they read it).

Other coverage of this case in the Seattle Times:

1 comment:

Legal Aid said...

Past actions connected with the offense charge will prove the accused's frame of mind and state of being.