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Rape Virginia Victim Testimony Conviction Lawyers Bristol City

Rape Virginia Victim Testimony Conviction Lawyers Bristol City

Thomson v. Commonwealth of Virginia
Facts:

Defendant moved in with the victim and her family and he became “like a father figure” to the victim. On a specific date when the victim was 11 years old, defendant entered the victim’s room and had sexual intercourse with her. Around the same time, he performed oral sex on her. The victim’s family and defendant soon moved. While at the new home, defendant engaged in oral sex with the victim at least once a month. At trial, the victim stated that the sexual activity at the new home was either oral or intercourse sex. A jury found him guilty of eight counts of rape of a child less than 13 years of age in violation of Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-61 and seven counts of carnal knowledge of a child between the ages of 13 and 15, in violation of Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-63. The City of Bristol Circuit Court (Virginia) entered final judgments of conviction after a jury found defendant guilty of eight counts of rape of a child less than 13 years of age, in violation of Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-61, and seven counts of carnal knowledge of a child between the ages of 13 and 15, in violation of Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-63. Defendant appealed.

Issues:
  • Whether there was sufficient evidence to prove the element of sexual intercourse in seven of the rape convictions?
  • Whether there was sufficient evidence of penetration in the six carnal knowledge convictions?
  • Whether there was sufficient evidence to determine the victim’s age at the time of the rape offenses?
Discussion:

This court held that the Commonwealth provided no evidence at trial, circumstantial or direct, from which the jury could find that seven rapes occurred. There was only evidence of one rape. The testimony of the victim establishes that on an unknown number of occasions defendant had some kind of sexual involvement with the victim. However, the prosecutor did not elicit any further information from the victim (or from any other source) that would allow the jury to infer what type of sexual activity occurred each time. In other words, while the occurrence of several sexual acts may have been established, the nature of the sexual activity–punishable under separate statutes–is completely speculative. This court held that seven of the rape convictions had to be reversed because the victim’s statement that the sex was either “oral or intercourse sex” left the jury to speculate about whether the required rape element of sexual intercourse occurred.

This court affirmed all six carnal knowledge convictions at issue, as the victim’s trial testimony that defendant put his tongue on her vagina on multiple occasions sufficiently proved defendant committed those offenses.
This court reversed and dismissed the challenged rape convictions because the Commonwealth failed to prove the required element of sexual intercourse; thus, this court did not address the sufficiency of the evidence to prove the victim’s age at the time of the offenses.

This court hence affirmed the trial court’s judgments of conviction on all seven charges against defendant of carnal knowledge. This court also affirmed one of the trial court’s judgments of conviction regarding the eight rape charges against defendant. It reversed and dismissed the remaining seven judgments of conviction for rape regarding defendant.

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Article written by A Sris

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Disclaimer:

These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content

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