Arizona Defendant Unsuccessfully Seeks Reversal of Conviction for Sexual Assault

In a recent case before the Arizona Court of Appeals, the defendant asked the court to reconsider his guilty convictions for kidnapping and sexual assault. The original charges were based on an incident during which the defendant allegedly held his ex-girlfriend against her will and tried to sexually assault her. Claiming his innocence, the defendant went to trial, and a jury found him guilty. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court should have let him introduce evidence of his ex-girlfriend’s previous false accusation of rape against his brother. Ultimately agreeing with the trial court’s decision, the court of appeals denied the defendant’s appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant’s ex-girlfriend was dating his brother, and the group of acquaintances all attended the same gathering one evening. The defendant was intoxicated, and he allegedly came and found his ex-girlfriend while she was asleep in one of the spare bedrooms. At that point, according to the ex-girlfriend, the defendant pushed himself on top of her, bruised her body, and tried to sexually assault her.

The woman managed to jump off the bed and run away. She raced to a neighbor’s house and asked them to call 911. Police officers quickly arrived and found the defendant hiding behind his car. They arrested him, and he was criminally charged.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court should have allowed him to introduce evidence of his ex-girlfriend’s past false rape accusation. Apparently, said the defendant, she had at one point accused his brother (her current significant other) of rape without any support or reason to believe he had actually raped her. This, said the defendant, showed a pattern of false accusations. The trial court was wrong to prohibit him from introducing this evidence at trial.

The higher court looked at the evidence and ultimately disagreed with the defendant. The ex-girlfriend’s previous statement claiming rape was: “I have been raped.” These words, said the court, were vague, and they didn’t specifically allege that the defendant’s brother had raped her. Thus, there was not enough evidence on the record to determine if she had a pattern of false rape accusations, and the trial court was correct to exclude the statement from the admissible evidence.

With that, the court denied the appeal, and the defendant’s conviction stayed in place.

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