The Rape Shield Statute Does Not Apply to All Sex Crimes

In the case of Deven Cooper versus the State of Florida, Mr. Cooper was convicted of the crimes of lewd or lascivious battery and molestation. At his trial, Cooper's lawyer was not allowed to question Cooper's accuser about her prior sexual experiences and her denial of any previous sexual experience to a police officer who had investigated the case. Cooper's lawyer was not allowed to do so because the trial judge believed that Florida's Rape Shield Statute prohibits such questions. But in this particular case, the judge was wrong.

The Rape Shield Statute states that "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." However, this statute pertains only to the crime of sexual battery. Cooper was not charged with committing the crime of sexual battery. Rather, he was charged with committing the crimes of lewd or lascivious battery and molestation. Therefore, the judge should not have prevented Cooper's lawyer from asking the questions he wanted to based upon the Rape Shield Statute.

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