Articles Posted in Sex Offenses

In United States v. Blouin, ARMY 20101135 (A. Ct. Crim. App. 28 May 2014), the court has, in my view, taken a broader view of what qualifies as CP for the purpose of a guilty plea.  However, the court is not taking an unknown or unvisited trail.

Blouin was charged with possessing CP in violation of 18 U.S. Code Sec. 2256(8), to which at trial he plead guilty.

As is common in these type of cases, the prosecution threw up a whole bunch of alleged (173 to be exact) CP images, without really understanding what they were doing.  And they compounded this with offering 12 images as a “sample.”  This caused the military judge to reopen providency, because he found only three of the images were likely CP.

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With the ongoing politics surrounding sexual assault in the military, and whether the commander should remain as the disciplinary decision maker, the AF has done an interesting review of (convictions).

After a spate of sex-related incidents last year, the Air Force reviewed all courts-martial from the previous three years — more than 2,400 cases — and found 25 instances in which a commander disagreed with a judge advocate general’s recommendation, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said.

I am assuming they mean that the CA granted either clemency or dismissal of one or more findings post-trial.  The article goes on to say:

“So in 12 of those 2,411 cases, which is a pretty small percentage — about 0.5 percent, actually — we did not have agreement between the commander and the JAG on the best way forward,” Welsh said during a breakfast Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “One of those was a sexual-related case.”

The article does not identify the Franklin/Wilkerson fiasco, nor does it address the Helms fiasco.

A spokesman for Sen. Gillibrand’s office didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail from Military.com requesting comment.

Perhaps because those numbers don’t fit the meme?

 

Capacity to Consent to Sexual RiskElaine Craig, Dalhousie University – Schulich School of Law, 2013

Forthcoming in New Criminal Law Review, Vol. 17, Number 1, pps 103–134. © 2014 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Abstract: 

In delineating the legal boundaries of capacity to consent to sexual touching, law makers and jurists must grapple with tensions between sexual liberty, morality, sexual minority equality interests, and public safety. Legal rules that stipulate that an individual cannot consent in advance to unconscious sexual activity or to sado-masochism, or that an individual under a certain age or with a particular intellectual capacity cannot consent to sexual touching have an impact on sexual liberty and should be justified. This paper argues that establishing these limits based on normative assessments about specific sexual acts poses too great a threat to the liberty interests of women and sexual minorities. A better approach is to accept that in sex, as is probably true of all complex human interactions, an accurate application of the definitional turns on the particular. Context is everything. No sexual act, including one that objectifies, is inherently harmful. The paper offers an alternative approach by suggesting that laws defining capacity to consent should be justified on the basis of assessments of risk rather than moral assessments about sex. This stands to circumscribe law’s limits on sexual liberty in ways that are better for women and sexual minorities. What this approach does not resolve is the paradox presented by the reality that although sex is inherently contextual, criminal laws prohibiting violations of sexual integrity should not be applied contextually. The paper explores how a recent legal ruling in Canada denying the capacity to provide advance consent to unconscious sex reveals this paradox. The discussion concludes by asserting that the failure of law to exclude morally inculpable unconscious sex between ongoing sexual partners reveals the limits of law and in doing so suggests the need to reevaluate the law’s conception of the relationship between sexual liberty and sexual integrity.
Or how about.  Flirtation or sexual harassment? Here’s how to tell the difference, on TheWomen’sBlog at The Guardian.

Yes is the simple answer.

The harder answer is why, and how do you tell.

As I always say, the first question to consider is motive.  If you have a motive, a lot must follow to corroborate the motive.  Here is an article from the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin about, False Allegations of Adult Crimes.

Perpetrators of false allegation crimes have various underlying motivations that fall into one or more categories. Investigators may encounter cases involving more than one motivation.

  • Mental illness/depression
  • Attention/sympathy
  • Financial/profit
  • Alibi
  • Revenge

I would place the lie to the husband/boyfriend/fiancée in the “alibi” column, when they have to explain why they were out late, or partying, or  . . . 

Law enforcement officers may find false allegation crimes complex and difficult to unravel. Further, investigators working closely with offenders may become so emotionally invested in the case that they have a hard time believing that the individual could be deceptive.

Especially if this is a military case and you have been told you must believe the “victim.”  Standard note: and all of the issues associated with confirmation bias.

J. McNamara, S. McDonald, and J. Lawrence, “Characteristics of False Allegation Adult Crimes,”Journal of Forensic Science 57, no. 3 (May 2012): 643-646.

The purpose of this study was to identify common factors in false allegation adult crimes, by examining the dynamics involved in 30 confirmed false allegation cases. The authors conducted a comprehensive review of these adjudicated cases and then completed a collection instrument to capture offender demographics, offense characteristics, and motive. The results indicated that most false allegation crimes were committed by women (73.3%) and Caucasians (93.3%). Data indicated that more interpersonally violent allegations were primarily motivated by attention/sympathy needs (50.0%), whereas more impersonal offenses involved other motivations such as providing an alibi (16.7%) or profit (13.3%). Offenders tended to be younger, high school graduates with no higher education (43.3%). A total of 23.3% of offenders had a prior criminal history. Male offenders appeared as likely as women to be motivated by attention/sympathy; however, men tended to select more violent, nonsexual offenses (e.g., attempted murder) than women.

Prof. Colin Miller has an interesting post about application of Rule 412, under Texas law, as decided in Johnson v. State, 2013 WL 531079 (Tex.App.-Waco 2013).

From Under the Shield: Court of Appeals of Texas Finds Rape Shield Rule Doesn’t Cover Alleged Victim’s Sexual Misconduct

Texas Rule of Evidence 412 mimics the federal rule which mimics the military rule.  I leave out most of the post and conclude with this.

The trial court, however, precluded Johnson from eliciting such testimony, finding that it was inadmissible under Texas Rule of Evidence 412. After Johnson was convicted, he appealed, claiming

that the excluded evidence (1) was admissible to rebut the false impression the State had left with the jury regarding the primary reason the complainant was in counseling, thereby opening the door for the sexual abuse evidence; (2) impeached the complainant’s testimony that his guilt in being the victim of sexual abuse was relieved when he made his outcry; and (3) supported the defense’s theory that the complainant had fabricated the abuse allegations against Appellant to get attention and sympathy for himself.

The Court of Appeals of Texas, Waco, agreed, concluding that

Appellant was entitled to present his defense. As a fundamental right, the Constitution guarantees criminal defendants a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense. The complainant had already been adjudicated delinquent for sexually assaulting his younger sister. He was not particularly remorseful for that conduct, and his actions resulted in strained relations with his parents and the need for counseling. He was mad at Appellant, and, having been adjudicated delinquent for sexually assaulting his younger sister, he knew firsthand or should have known how damning and indefensible an accusation of sexual assault could be. Appellant was entitled to correct the misleading characterization of the complainant that the State had presented to the jury, but the trial court impermissibly limited his right to cross-examine both the complainant and other witnesses against Appellant and to present evidence. We therefore hold that the trial court abused its discretion by not allowing Appellant to cross-examine the complainant and other adverse witnesses with evidence of the complainant’s prior sexual victimization of his little sister.

As noted in yesterday’s post, Federal Rule of Evidence 414(a),

In a criminal case in which a defendant is accused of child molestation, the court may admit evidence that the defendant committed any other child molestation. The evidence may be considered on any matter to which it is relevant.

So, what exactly counts as "child molestation" for Rule 414(a) purposes? Let’s take a look at the recent opinion of the United States District Court for the District of Utah in United States v. Gardner, 2013 WL 53845 (D.Utah 2013).

h/t Prof. Colin Miller TG.

The C. G. Ct. Crim. Apps. has issued an unpublished decision in United States v. Whitaker, in which it discusses whether:

Appellant’s conviction under Article 125, UCMJ, for consensual sodomy should be dismissed because the military judge failed to discuss the corresponding liberty interest during the providence inquiry.

The court concluded it was proper to dismiss the charge.

This was a case of consensual sodomy.  The charge did not allege “without consent” and that was not discussed during the providence inquiry.  The case discusses application of United States v. Hartman.  The court did not agree with the government argument, and:

The military judge did not explain to or discuss with Appellant why his conduct fell outside the bounds of the constitutionally protected liberty interest, and Appellant did not acknowledge that his conduct was outside the bounds of the constitutionally protected liberty interest.  Accordingly, we hold Appellant’s guilty plea to sodomy was improvident, and we set aside the conviction.

AP reports the following.

Johnathan Montgomery spent the past four years in a Virginia state prison saying the same thing a lot of inmates do: He was innocent.  Convicted in 2008 of molesting a 10-year-old girl outside her grandmother’s Hampton home when he was 14, he insisted the alleged 2000 assault never happened. Turns out, he was telling the truth.

Coast is being identified because authorities say she admitted fabricating the story and because she has been charged with perjury.  According to media reports, prosecutors say that Coast told investigators that her parents caught her looking at pornographic websites in 2007 when she was 17, so she concocted a story of prior sexual abuse to explain her behavior. When the alleged assault occurred, Montgomery lived across the street from Coast’s grandmother in Hampton, Va. The two had previously played together.

When she devised the assault story she didn’t think anything would happen to Montgomery because he had moved with his father and stepmother to North Carolina in 2004, Virginia prosecutors said. But based on her testimony, he was convicted of aggravated sexual battery and other charges and was sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison.

Here is an interesting case from the First, United States v. Cameron, decided 14 November 2012.  The issue is confrontation and the admission of various internet provider records.  I think this case helpful in litigating the paper that the prosecution seeks to use in CP cases.

We thus presume that Cameron’s challenge is to the following categories of evidence: (1) the Yahoo! Account Management Tool and Login Tracker data — this data was attached to the CP Reports and was also produced in response to search warrants; (2) electronic receipts of Yahoo’s CP Reports to NCMEC — these receipts were produced by Yahoo! in response to search warrants; (3) NCMEC’s CyberTipline Reports to ICAC; and (4) the Google Hello Connection Logs.

Here, from Prof. Berman TG at Sentencing Law & Policy is a reminder about evidence in CP cases.  I think most of us already do this, and a number of prosecutors already think of this.

A notable Third Circuit panel ruling today in US v. Cunningham, No. 10-4021 (3d Cir. Sept. 18, 2012) (avalable here), highlights the challenges (and the truly disgusting nature) of some federal child pornography prosecutions. Here is how the lengthy opinion gets started:

David Cunningham appeals the September 27, 2010 judgment of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania sentencing him to 210 months’ imprisonment and 20 years’ supervised release based on his conviction for the receipt and distribution of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2).  At trial, the District Court allowed the government, over Cunningham’s objection, to show the jury two videos containing seven different video clips totaling approximately two minutes as a sample of the child pornography that gave rise to the charges.  Cunningham contends that, because the Court permitted the videos to be shown without first viewing the videos to determine whether the danger of unfair prejudice substantially outweighed their probative value, the Court erred and his conviction must be reversed.  We agree that the District Court abused its discretion, not only by failing to review the videos prior to admitting them but also by allowing all of those videos to be shown to the jury, because the highly inflammatory nature of two of them clearly and substantially outweighed their probative value pertaining to the crimes charged.  Those errors were not harmless, and we will therefore vacate and remand for a new trial.