CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, November 3, 2017

Sweeny & Slack on Sexting and Rape Shield Laws

JoAnne Sweeny and John Slack (University of Louisville and University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, Students) have posted Sexting as ‘Sexual Behavior’ Under Rape Shield Laws
11 Int'l J. Cyber Criminology 246 (2017) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
As part of the proliferation of online communications, there has been a global increase in sexually explicit social media messages and consensual sexting among teenagers and adults of all ages. As a result, these kinds of electronic communications have begun to be used as evidence in a wide variety of court cases, including sexual harassment and discrimination cases. However, courts have only begun to consider whether such communications, particularly sexting communications, should be usable to impeach a sexual assault complainant, or whether these kinds of communications should be protected under rape shield laws as sexual “conduct” or “behavior.” This article traces the history of rape shield laws in four common law countries: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and, using the history and purpose of these laws, argues that sexting should be protected under rape shield laws to protect sexual assault victims from unnecessary questioning about evidence that is likely to be embarrassing, prejudicial, and irrelevant to the case.

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