State v. Gibson, 61365

Decision Date31 August 1982
Docket NumberNo. 61365,61365
Citation636 S.W.2d 956
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. John Lee GIBSON, Appellant.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Melvin G. Franke, Union, Timothy A. Braun, St. Charles, for appellant.

John Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., Theodore A. Bruce, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for respondent.

MORGAN, Judge.

Appellant was acquitted of one count of sodomy, but convicted of one count of forcible rape and one count of kidnapping and was sentenced to terms of twenty years and five years respectively with said terms to run consecutively. Secs. 559.260 and 559.240, RSMo 1969. The appeal therefrom revolves around the application and alleged unconstitutionality of § 491.015, RSMo 1978, commonly referred to as the "rape shield" statute. We reverse and remand.

There is no dispute between the prosecutrix (herein referred to as the complainant) and the appellant as to whether or not the sexual activity actually did occur. However, appellant submits that the same was consensual while the complainant asserts that it followed "forcible compulsion" upon her. At trial, appellant sought to introduce evidence that the complainant had had sexual relations with her boyfriend sometime within two or three hours of the alleged rape, but the trial court excluded the evidence. Two issues are raised on appeal: (1) the admissibility of the evidence under the statute, and (2) the constitutionality of the statute. Because we decide that the evidence was admissible under the statute, we need not reach the second issue. 1

Sec. 491.015, RSMo 1978, reads as follows:

1. In prosecutions for the crimes of rape, attempt to commit rape, or conspiracy to commit rape, opinion and reputation evidence of the complaining witness' prior sexual conduct is inadmissible; evidence of specific instances of the complaining witness' prior sexual conduct or the absence of such instances or conduct is inadmissible, except where such specific instances are:

(1) Evidence of the sexual conduct of the complaining witness with the defendant to prove consent and the evidence is reasonably contemporaneous with the date of the alleged crime; or

(2) Evidence of specific instances of sexual activity showing alternative source or origin of semen, pregnancy or disease;

(3) Evidence of immediate surrounding circumstances of the alleged crime; or

(4) Evidence relating to the previous chastity of the complaining witness in cases, where, by statute, previously chaste character is required to be proved by the prosecution.

2. Evidence of the sexual conduct of the complaining witness offered under this section is admissible to the extent that the court finds the evidence relevant to a material fact or issue.

3. If the defendant proposes to offer evidence of the sexual conduct of the complaining witness under this section, he shall file with the court a written motion accompanied by an offer of proof or make an offer of proof on the record outside the hearing of the jury. The court shall hold an in camera hearing to determine the sufficiency of the offer of proof and may at that hearing hear evidence if the court deems it necessary to determine the sufficiency of the offer of proof. If the court finds any of the evidence offered admissible under this section the court shall make an order stating the scope of the evidence which may be introduced. Objections to any decision of the court under this section may be made by either the prosecution or the defendant in the manner provided by law. The in camera hearing shall be recorded and the court shall set forth its reasons for its ruling. The record of the in camera hearing shall be sealed for delivery to the parties and to the appellate court in the event of an appeal or other post trial proceeding.

We have ruled that the statute creates only a "presumption" that evidence of a victim's prior sexual conduct is irrelevant. State v. Brown, 636 S.W.2d 929, 933 (Mo. banc 1982). The statute enumerates exceptions to the general presumption, § 491.015.1(1)-(4); and, additionally, § 491.015.2 allows the trial court to admit evidence that it "finds ... relevant to a material fact or issue." Upon an examination of the whole record, we find that appellant's proffered evidence was "(e)vidence of immediate surrounding circumstances of the alleged crime," § 491.015.1(3), and, moreover, that it was probative of material issues, namely, whether the complainant had consented to the sexual acts now charged and whether appellant reasonably believed that she had.

Generally, the so-called "rape shield" statutes have been enacted to redress "the faulty premise upon which evidence of prior sexual conduct traditionally had been admitted." Id. That premise was that prior sexual experience was probative of a general inclination to have sexual experience and of credibility. The statute sought to square law and logic as well as to encourage the victims of rape to assist law enforcement by removing the threat that the intimate details of their past sexual activities would be published. The statute, however, does not ignore the fact that not all evidence of prior sexual acts requires an ...

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22 cases
  • Rodriguez v. Suzuki Motor Corp.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 17 Diciembre 1996
    ...v. Williams, 652 S.W.2d 102, 113 (Mo. banc 1983). "The fact that such evidence might be prejudicial is not dispositive."2 See State v. Gibson, 636 S.W.2d 956 (Mo. banc 1982). Although prejudice is not the dispositive issue, "due process does not require all relevant evidence to be received ......
  • State v. Myszka, WD
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 17 Febrero 1998
    ...value outweighs its inflammatory and prejudicial dangers. State v. Franklin, 854 S.W.2d 55, 58 (Mo.App.1993) (citing, State v. Gibson, 636 S.W.2d 956, 958 (Mo. banc 1982)). "The trial court has broad discretion in determining the relevancy of evidence and such ruling will not be disturbed a......
  • State v. Vigil
    • United States
    • Washington Court of Appeals
    • 26 Agosto 2021
    ... ... P.2d 363, 366 (Alaska Ct. App. 1987); State v. Ward , ... 61 N.C.App. 605, 300 S.E.2d 855 (1983); State v ... Gibson , 636 S.W.2d 956 (Mo. 1982) ... We find ... no case directly addressing whether evidence of past behavior ... avoids a ... ...
  • State v. Gateley
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 12 Septiembre 1995
    ...are matters for the trial court's determination, a decision which will be disturbed only for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Gibson, 636 S.W.2d 956, 958 (Mo. banc 1982). In this context, to establish an abuse of discretion, a defendant must show that reasonable persons could not differ......
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