State v. Schumpert, No. 23927

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtMOORE; HARWELL; FINNEY; FINNEY
Citation312 S.C. 502,435 S.E.2d 859
Docket NumberNo. 23927
Decision Date22 March 1993
PartiesThe STATE, Respondent, v. Frank Carlton SCHUMPERT, Appellant. . Heard

Page 859

435 S.E.2d 859
312 S.C. 502
The STATE, Respondent,
v.
Frank Carlton SCHUMPERT, Appellant.
No. 23927.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard March 22, 1993.
Decided Aug. 23, 1993.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 22, 1993.

Page 860

Jack B. Swerling, Columbia and Thomas H. Pope, III of Pope & Hudgens, Newberry, for appellant.

Attorney Gen. T. Travis Medlock, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen. Donald J. Zelenka, Columbia, and Sol. W. Townes Jones, IV, Greenwood, for respondent.

MOORE, Justice:

Appellant was convicted of criminal sexual conduct with a minor, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. We affirm the convictions for criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping and vacate the conviction for false imprisonment.

FACTS

The victim was thirteen years old at the time of the alleged offense. She lived with her parents on Scurry Island Road which borders Lake Greenwood in Chappells, South Carolina. Appellant owned a lake house on the same road but did not reside there. He was sixty-three years old at the time in question.

The victim testified that on a Saturday, either the 14th or 21st of April 1990, at around 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., she was walking along the road near her home when appellant pulled up in his pick-up truck and began talking to her. She told him her parents had forbidden her to talk with him after she told them of a previous incident when he had kissed her on the mouth. Appellant then grabbed her and pulled her into the truck and drove to his lake house. He pulled her out of the truck while she struggled and took her into a bedroom where he raped her. After raping her, appellant went into the bathroom and the victim pulled up her clothing. When appellant came back into the bedroom and sat on

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the bed, she kicked him and ran out of the house into the woods. From her hiding place, she saw appellant leave in his truck.

The victim reported the rape to her guidance counselor three to four weeks later. A gynecologist examined her in May 1990. He testified her hymen was dilated, which is consistent with penetration, but there was no evidence of tearing or scarring. Appellant's defense at trial was alibi.

ISSUES

1. Whether rape trauma evidence was improperly admitted?

2. Whether hearsay evidence was improperly admitted?

3. Whether appellant was prejudiced by the trial judge's charge regarding the time of the offense?

4. Whether the "no corroboration" charge was an impermissible charge on the facts?

DISCUSSION

1. Rape Trauma Evidence

After the rape was reported, the victim was interviewed by Heather Odell from the Department of Social Services and Ruth Strait, a mental health counselor. Both Odell and Strait testified at trial regarding the victim's behavior after the rape.

Odell testified the victim appeared withdrawn and nervous, was tugging at her clothing, and had a difficult time maintaining eye contact at their interview. She described the victim as being in "a general state of nervousness and apprehension." Based on her observations, Odell referred the case for crime victim counselling. Odell also testified the victim's behavior was not attributable to normal teenage hormonal changes and she therefore concluded "this was a case of criminal child sexual assault."

Strait was qualified as an expert "in the field of sexual abuse." She testified the victim was tearful, nervous, and had fluctuating eating habits, nightmares, lethargy, hypervigilence, and problems with anger and guilt. Strait further testified the victim's behavioral symptoms were typical for a victim of sexual abuse.

First, appellant contends Odell and Strait were not qualified to give expert testimony on rape trauma syndrome. No issue was raised at trial regarding Odell's qualification as an expert. This issue is therefore not properly before us. State v. Caldwell, 283 S.C. 350, 322 S.E.2d 662 (1984).

As to Strait's qualification, we find no error. The qualification of a witness as an expert falls largely within the trial judge's discretion. State v. Myers, 301 S.C. 251, 391 S.E.2d 551 (1990). The party offering the expert has the burden of showing his witness possesses the necessary learning, skill, or practical experience to enable the witness to give opinion testimony. Generally, however, defects in the amount and quality of education or experience go to the weight of the expert's testimony and not its admissibility. Id. Strait testified she had a master's degree in social work and specialized in child and adolescent services. She attended training seminars regarding sexual abuse survivors and worked on more than one hundred cases involving sexually abused children. We find no abuse of discretion in her qualification as an expert.

Appellant next claims error in the admission of rape trauma evidence to prove a rape actually occurred. He relies on State v. Hudnall, 293 S.C. 97, 359 S.E.2d 59 (1987), in which this Court held expert testimony regarding common behavioral characteristics exhibited by child victims of sexual abuse was not admissible to establish abuse had occurred. We held this evidence admissible only to rebut a defense claim that the victim's response was inconsistent with such a trauma.

In State v. Alexander, 303 S.C. 377, 401 S.E.2d 146 (1991), however, we held trauma testimony of a rape victim is relevant to prove the elements of criminal sexual conduct since such evidence makes it more or less probable that the offense occurred. We further held such evidence admissible where its probative value outweighs

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its prejudicial effect. Id. We now expressly overrule State v. Hudnall to the extent it is inconsistent with State v. Alexander and clarify that both expert testimony and behavioral evidence are admissible as rape trauma evidence to prove a sexual offense occurred where the probative value of such evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect. 1 We find the probative value of the rape trauma evidence in this case outweighs its prejudicial effect and therefore hold it was properly admitted.

2. Hearsay

Marian David, the victim's guidance counselor, testified the victim told her the rape occurred in the lake area where she lived. Ruth Strait, the mental health counselor, testified the victim told her the rape occurred at "Carlton Shumpert's lake house." Appellant contends these statements were inadmissible hearsay.

It is a well-settled exception to the hearsay rule that in...

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161 practice notes
  • State v. Martucci, No. 4438.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 24, 2008
    ...bad act evidence is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt if its impact is minimal in the context of the entire record); State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 507, 435 S.E.2d 859, 862 (1993) (finding any error in the admission of evidence cumulative to other unobjected-to evidence is Parker's test......
  • State v. Kirton, No. 4470.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 17, 2008
    ...(recognizing admission of improper evidence is harmless where the evidence is merely cumulative to other evidence); State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 435 S.E.2d 859 (1993) (finding any error in admission of evidence cumulative to other unobjected-to evidence is harmless); State v. Johnson, ......
  • State v. Douglas, No. 4075.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 23, 2006
    ...experience to enable the witness to give opinion testimony. State v. Von Dohlen, 322 S.C. 234, 471 S.E.2d 689 (1996); State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 435 S.E.2d 859 (1993); Henry, 329 S.C. at 274, 495 S.E.2d at 466. Generally, however, defects in the amount and quality of the expert's edu......
  • State v. Von Dohlen, No. 24437
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 19, 1995
    ...amount and quality of education or experience go to the weight of the expert's testimony and not its admissibility. State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 435 S.E.2d 859 [322 S.C. 249] The amount of pain a victim suffered is a relevant circumstance at sentencing. Cf. State v. Davis, 309 S.C. 326......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
161 cases
  • State v. Martucci, No. 4438.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 24, 2008
    ...bad act evidence is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt if its impact is minimal in the context of the entire record); State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 507, 435 S.E.2d 859, 862 (1993) (finding any error in the admission of evidence cumulative to other unobjected-to evidence is Parker's test......
  • State v. Kirton, No. 4470.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • December 17, 2008
    ...(recognizing admission of improper evidence is harmless where the evidence is merely cumulative to other evidence); State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 435 S.E.2d 859 (1993) (finding any error in admission of evidence cumulative to other unobjected-to evidence is harmless); State v. Johnson, ......
  • State v. Douglas, No. 4075.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • January 23, 2006
    ...experience to enable the witness to give opinion testimony. State v. Von Dohlen, 322 S.C. 234, 471 S.E.2d 689 (1996); State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 435 S.E.2d 859 (1993); Henry, 329 S.C. at 274, 495 S.E.2d at 466. Generally, however, defects in the amount and quality of the expert's edu......
  • State v. Von Dohlen, No. 24437
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 19, 1995
    ...amount and quality of education or experience go to the weight of the expert's testimony and not its admissibility. State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 435 S.E.2d 859 [322 S.C. 249] The amount of pain a victim suffered is a relevant circumstance at sentencing. Cf. State v. Davis, 309 S.C. 326......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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