In People v. Scott (Ct. App. 5/3/2011) (Jones, J.) (7-0), three 8th grade girls went to a party and then to another house, where they drank, smoked marijuana, and engaged in sexual activity. One of them alleged that a male minor (Steven A.) and the Defendant, a 23-year-old male, had sex with her, the latter against her will. The trial court agreed with the People that evidence of sexual contact with Steven A. was inadmissible under the Rape Shield Law unless the People introduced evidence about the victim's bruising. In addition, the Defendant was prohibited from elicitng from another witness that the victim stated that she was crying because she had sex with Steven A.
The Court of Appeals ducked the question of whether the witness' statement was admissible notwithstanding the Rape Shield Law, since it was relevant to a defense and in the interests of justice to do so. The court declined to address the issue because the Defendant was acquitted of Rape 1º—forcible rape. Instead, he was convicted of Rape 2º—statutory rape, which does not require evidence of force or lack of consent.
So let's continue where the court left off. What if the Defendant had been convicted of forcible rape? One could argue that the evidence of the other sexual encounter should have been admitted since it would have gone to rebut the implication that she was crying because she had been forcibly raped. On the other hand, the question is not just whether the evidence was relevant to a defense but also whether it is in the interests of justice to admit it. Here, the court must take into account the strong policy reasons behind the Rape Shield Law. In addition, the People were permitted to introduce the victim's statement to one of the other girls that she did not want to have sex with Defendant. She made the statement while exiting the bedroom where she was alone with the Defendant. She came out crying and wearing only a bed sheet. The helpfulness of the second statement, purporting to explain her crying as a result of her encounter with Steven A., is ultimately undercut by the first, where she is crying and speaking about the incident with the Defendant. Ultimately, in balancing the various interests, the court could have concluded that it was not an abuse of discretion to exclude the evidence. (LC)