Court Of Appeals Reject Victim’s Past Sexual History With Defendant To Show Consent

A recent 6th circuit case has the potential to impact sexual assault cases in Michigan. In Gagne v. Booker, the Court of Appeals reviewed the legal doctrine called the “rape shield law.”

The “rape shield” law provides that defendants in rape cases are not allowed to introduce evidence of an alleged victim’s sexual history as evidence that the person consented to the sexual behavior.

If you have been charged with any Michigan sex crime, it is important to contact an aggressive Michigan sex crimes attorney right away to begin preparing your defense.

Here, the defendant was charged with forcing his ex-girlfriend to engage in group sexual activities. The case turned on whether the girlfriend had consented to these acts. Gagne was barred from presenting evidence the girlfriend had previously willingly engaged in group sex based on Michigan’s rape shield law.

A lower court determined that Gagne was deprived of his right to a fair trial under the Sixth Amendment, and his conviction was overturned.

The Court of Appeals reversed, determining that Gagne had no right to present this evidence. However, this decision was not unanimous. Two judges dissented, with Judge Raymond Kethledge arguing that the Michigan rape shield law allows an exception for evidence of a victim’s prior sexual activity with the defendant. He further noted that the woman had engaged in virtually identical sexual behavior with the defendant and another man and this is a “critical difference in a rape trial in which the only issue was consent and the stakes ran as high as 45 years in prison.”


This case is significant and may potentially impact the type of evidence allowed as part of a vigorous criminal defense strategy.

For more information about Michigan’s rape shield law, or if you have been charged with any sex crime, contact the top Michigan sex crime defense lawyers at Grabel & Associates for an immediate free consultation.