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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Protective Shield: Supreme Court Of Kentucky Finds Rape Shield Rule Precludes Evidence Of Victims' Prostitution

Similar to its federal counterpartKentucky Rule of Evidence 412(a), Kentucky's rape shield rule, provides that

(a)  Evidence generally inadmissible. The following evidence is not admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding involving alleged sexual misconduct except as provided in subdivisions (b) and (c).

(1)  Evidence offered to prove that any alleged victim engaged in other sexual behavior.

(2)  Evidence offered to prove any alleged victim's sexual predisposition. 

And, like its federal counterpartKentucky Rule of Evidence 412(a) is subject to certain exceptions. So, were those exceptions triggered in Edmonds v. Commonwealth, 2012 WL 2362429 (Ky. 2012)?

In Edmonds, Robert Edmonds 

was convicted of raping and sodomizing two women -- EV in 2005, and HN in 2007. At trial, [Edmonds] indicated it was his wish to represent himself, and he was allowed to do so. He claimed that, while he did engage in the sexual acts with his alleged victims, the acts were consensual.

After he was convicted, Edmonds appealed, claiming, inter alia, that the trial court erred in deeming certain evidence inadmissible under Kentucky's rape shield rule. Specifically, Edmonds claimed that he should have been able to present evidence that EV and HN were prostitutes to support his theory of the case, which is that "HN and EV were prostitutes with whom he engaged in consensual sex, but refused to pay."

The Supreme Court of Kentucky initially found that evidence that HN and EV were prostitutes was evidence of "other sexual behavior," which is inadmissible under Kentucky Rule of Evidence 412(a)(1). Next, the court that the subject evidence was inadmissible under the various exceptions to the rape shield rule. Specifically, Kentucky Rule of Evidence 412(b) provides that

(1) In a criminal case, the following evidence is admissible, if otherwise admissible under these rules:

(A) evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior by the alleged victim offered to prove that a person other than the accused was the source of semen, injury, or other physical evidence;

(B) evidence of specific instances of sexual behavior by the alleged victim with respect to the person accused of the sexual misconduct offered by the accused to prove consent or by the prosecution; and

(C) any other evidence directly pertaining to the offense charged. 

The Supreme Court of Kentucky found that (B) didn't apply because Edmonds did not claim that he had previously solicited EV or HN as prostitutes. And the court also found that (C) didn't apply because evidence that the alleged victims were prostitutes did not directly pertain to the crimes charged (It is interesting to note that  Kentucky Rule of Evidence 412(b)(C) is different from its federal counterpart, which provides an exception for "evidence whose exclusion would violate the defendant’s constitutional rights.").

That keft (B), and the Kentucky Supremes noted Edmonds sought "to introduce evidence that, in addition to his DNA, the semen sample from EV's panties contained the DNA of three other men." But the court found this evidence irrelevant because "DNA testing showed [Edmonds'] semen present in the cases of both women, and neither of the women claimed to have sustained any physical injuries."

-CM

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/evidenceprof/2012/07/412-prostitute-edmonds-v-comnot-reported-in-sw3d-2012-wl-2362429ky2012.html

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Comments

"The Supreme Court of Kentucky found that (B) didn't apply because Edmonds did not claim that he had previously solicited EV or HN as prostitutes"
That's plainly wrong. In order to solicite someone as a prostitute they must actually be a prostitute. So the court put the cart before the horse. Otherwise:

(1) Find some random women.
(2) Offer her $20.
(3) When she declines rape her.
(4) Claim that she is now a prostitute because you solicited her as a prostitute.
(5) Introduce her past sexual behavior.
(6) Win.

That can't possibly be the right answer. I'd go so far as to say it's clearly and obviously wrong.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 12, 2012 11:16:03 AM

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