STATE v. EDWARD LESTER, SC 19183
Judicial District of Tolland at G.A. 19
Criminal; Evidence; Whether Trial Court Properly Applied Rape Shield Statute, General Statutes § 54-86f, in Excluding Defendant’s Evidence that Child Victim Made a Previous Unsubstantiated Report of Improper Touching. The defendant was charged with sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. At trial, the defendant sought to introduce evidence that, before accusing the defendant, the then five year old victim had made another allegation that she had been touched improperly by an adult and that the allegation had been deemed unsubstantiated. The defendant sought to show that the victim had admitted lying about the prior allegation and that, in the course of the investigation into the prior allegation, the victim had been interviewed using dolls. The defendant hoped to demonstrate to the jury that the victim’s exposure to the dolls provided a separate basis explaining her knowledge of sexual matters. The trial court refused to admit the evidence, and the defendant was convicted of sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. The defendant appeals, claiming that, in precluding evidence of the victim’s prior allegation of improper touching, the trial court wrongly determined that a witness he offered to testify concerning the circumstances surrounding the prior allegation was not credible. The defendant also claims that the trial court wrongly relied on the rape shield statute, General Statutes § 54-86f, in refusing to admit his evidence as to the source of the victim’s knowledge of sex and in refusing to allow the defendant to cross-examine the victim concerning that knowledge and concerning her prior allegation of improper touching. While the rape shield statute broadly prohibits the admission of “evidence of the sexual conduct of the victim [of sexual assault],” the defendant claims that the evidence he offered was nonetheless admissible pursuant to § 54-86f (4) because it was “so relevant and material to a critical issue in the case that excluding it would violate the defendant’s constitutional rights.” Finally, the defendant argues that the trial court should not have determined that the rape shield statute barred evidence that, during the investigation into the prior allegation of improper touching, investigators used dolls in interviewing the victim. The defendant claims that the evidence was not “evidence of the sexual conduct of victim” as contemplated by § 54-86f and therefore that the court wrongly deemed it inadmissible under the statute.