Rape shield laws were created to help protect sexual assault victims from invasive inquiries into their sex life. Florida law prohibits the defense from entering into evidence any specific instances of consensual sex between the victim and anyone other than the defendant. In this case, the victim allegedly had consensual sex with her ex-boyfriend before going to a party with him. At the party she allegedly had too much alcohol and passed out. While her ex-boyfriend was gone getting more alcohol, three of the partygoers – including the defendant – allegedly sexually assaulted her. At trial, the defendant was convicted of sexual battery with specified circumstances by multiple perpetrators.
Evidence of Prior Consensual Sex
The defendant in this case alleged several grounds for appeal. One of the grounds for appeal was that the judge did not allow him to admit evidence of the victim’s consensual sex with her ex-boyfriend before the party. The Florida Third District Court of Appeal relied on the rape shield law explained above to uphold the conviction on this argument. The court explained that a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser can come into play if there are unreasonable limits placed on a defendant’s right to cross examine witnesses.
The defendant here argued that he wanted to introduce this evidence to show that the victim wanted to get back together with her ex-boyfriend. Therefore, the defendant argued, she lied about the sex being consensual at the party in order to preserve her relationship with her ex-boyfriend. However, the appeals court here held that there was adequate other evidence that was introduced at the trial to show the relationship between the victim and her ex-boyfriend. Thus, on this ground the conviction could stand.