At issue – rape shield laws. Specifically, under what circumstances can the sex life of alleged rape victim be used by the defense at trial.
Generally, Michigan law excludes evidence of the victim’s sexual conduct or reputation at trial. However, exceptions may exist in limited circumstances – such as where the sexual conduct is between the accused and the victim, and where the past conduct is relevant to the case at hand.
Here, in a rape trial alleging non-consensual group sex, evidence of a previous act of group sex including the accused and the alleged victim was withheld. The accused – Lewis Gagne – was ultimately convicted and sentenced to up to 45 years in prison.
On appeal, a 3-person panel determined that Gagne’s rights were violated at trial. The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has now agreed to revisit the case, finding that based on the facts of this case, the trial court violated the defendant’s due process rights in applying Michigan’s rape shield law.
Unfortunately mistakes can and do happen at trial. It’s crucial to have an experienced sex crimes defense attorney on your side to aggressively defend your rights. If you or a loved one has been accused of a sex crime, please contact Grabel & Associates, PC, a Michigan law firm exclusively dedicated to sex crimes defense.