No. 23537 - State of West Virginia v. James Quinn
Maynard, Justice, dissenting:
The trial of a rape or sexual abuse case is often humiliating for
the victim. Describing the details of sexual abuse is difficult
under the most benign circumstances, let alone in a courtroom
packed with strangers. Moreover, until recently, the sexual
assault was not the only abuse of the victim. A second attack
occurred at trial, where defense counsel impeached the victim
with evidence regarding the victim's sexual history. Such
impeachment took two forms: (1) opinion or reputation
evidence, or (2) proof of specific instances of the victim's past
sexual conduct. One consequence of such impeachment was to
place the victim on trial along with the defendant. In response
to this unsatisfactory situation, states enacted rape shield
statues. . . .
John E.B. Myers, 1 Evidence in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases 5.28 (2d ed. 1992).
West Virginia has enacted just such a statute. See W.Va. Code 61-8B-11 (1986).
This decision is a sword which will be used to pierce the rape shield statute and
will cruelly stab like a driven nail into the most vulnerable child victims of rape and will
further victimize those children.
Allowing child victims to be cross-examined regarding prior false allegations really permits inquiry into the victim's past sexual behavior in violation of our rape shield statute and the practical and actual result is a brutal attack on the general credibility of the child. I agree completely with the trial judge in the case of United States v. Cardinal, 782 F.2d 34, 36 (6th Cir. 1986), who said:
I don't see how you can separate evidence of a victim's past
sexual behavior from the fact that she had made an allegation of
rape and then withdrawn [sic] it. I think they are interwoven.
This is a thirteen-year-old young lady [and under] the spirit of
Rule 412, it seems to me that it's just this type of allegation that
this young woman should be protected from.
I would not permit any cross-examination of child victims regarding any
alleged prior false allegations. Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, I dissent.