Rape Shield Laws

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David the Defendant was charged with Sexual battery. His theory of defense was that someone else had sexually assaulted the victim and physically battered her outside the house. To support his defense he sought to offer evidence that the victim was a prostitute. The Government moved to prevent David from making a reference that the victim was a prostitute. The defense argued that the detective in David’s taped statement knew the victim was a prostitute. However, the detective testified before trial and admitted that he had no factual evidence that the victim was a prostitute. Additionally, David was prepared to testify regarding her prostitution activities. Florida’s rape shield law limits evidence of a sexual battery victim’s other sexual activity and reputation evidence of prior sexual conduct. That statute provides in pertinent part: (2) Specific instances of prior consensual sexual activity between the victim and any person other than the offender shall not be admitted into evidence in a prosecution under the sexual battery. However, such evidence may be admitted if it is first established to the court in a proceeding in camera that such evidence may prove that the defendant was not the source of the semen, pregnancy, injury, or disease…. (3) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, reputation evidence relating to a victim’s prior sexual conduct … shall not be admitted into evidence in a prosecution under s. 794.011. When completing the assignment, in a 2-3 page paper, please answer the following questions (be sure to research these terms on the Internet [i.e. – in-camera hearing]): What are rape shield laws? Why have states enacted Raped Shield Laws? Before the Court determines if such testimony is allowed it must complete an “in-camera hearing.” What is an in-camera hearing? Should the Court allow the defendant to offer testimony of the victim’s sexual activity? Why or why not? Please explain.

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