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Fri Jan 18, 2013, 12:52 AM

Court question: Is statutory rape victim 'accomplice?'

Source: The Tennessean

Court question: Is statutory rape victim 'accomplice?'
Bobby Allyn, The Tennessean 10:08p.m. EST January 17, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Under Tennessee law, a victim of statutory rape can be considered an accomplice in the crime against her, though that might not be the case for long.

The state Supreme Court has agreed to take on a case involving a 14-year-old girl from Arkansas and a Memphis man, which could lead it to dust off and possibly overturn the arcane interpretation of the law.

The rule, which has gone unchallenged for more than a century, emerged from an 1895 incest case in which a Tennessee court found no "evidence of force" in a case involving an uncle having sex with his niece. The court ruled, however, that both could be convicted of incest.

To have such an interpretation on the books in the 21st century is an outrage, some observers say.

Read more: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/17/statutory-rape-victim-is-accomplice/1566444/

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 12:59 AM

1. "Under Tennessee law, a victim of statutory rape can be considered an accomplice in the crime..."


They had BETTER get rid of this...or, forever and a day, the Pukes and MEN, will have cemented the War on Women.

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 01:06 AM

2. Allow me to channel the Teabilly responce..

If'n she wearnt no jezzabelle, she'd have had a gun like a good patriotic Murrican an put a stop to any ungential advancamifcations. So therefor she's a slut an compli... complis.. complic.. she done wrong!

Git 'er done!

ugh.. I feel unclean now.

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Response to IrishAle (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 04:33 AM

10. If, for some reason she doesn't have a gun, she'd better end up nearly dead

in order for anyone to lower himself enough to reckon maybe she didn't want it, after all.

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 01:07 AM

3. Sounds more like a war on children.

Incest happens to boys as well. It is a horrible law all around. I doubt it has been used to put any victims in jail, but the fact that it is on the books is horrifying.

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Response to SoapBox (Reply #1)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 01:59 AM

6. The issue is due to the legal rule that an Accomplice testimony must be supported by other evidence


This is the same rule as with Confessions under the Common Law, if a valid Confession is made, it is NOT sufficient for an conviction UNLESS other evidence support the confession.

In this case the Officer who did the investigation went to the room where the rape occurred and confirmed that it was as the victim described the room. The Trial Court and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals found that was enough additional evidence to support the testimony of the Victim and upheld the conviction. I see the Tennessee Supreme Court making the same ruling. In this case there is no need to over turn the rule that a statement by an accomplice must be supported by other evidence, the Trial Court had other evidence.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 01:07 AM

4. Here is the 1895 case they want to overturn:


Last edited Fri Jan 18, 2013, 02:01 AM - Edit history (2)

95 Tenn. 152, *; 31 S.W. 492, **;
1895 Tenn. LEXIS 73, ***; 11 Pickle 152




95 Tenn. 152; 31 S.W. 492; 1895 Tenn. LEXIS 73; 11 Pickle 152

April, 1895, Decided

PRIOR HISTORY: Appeal in error from Circuit Court of Hardin County. E. D. PATTERSON, Judge.


Attorney-general PICKLE for State.




MCALISTER, J. The plaintiff in error was indicted, tried, and convicted in the Circuit Court of Hardin County, on a charge of incestuous intercourse with the daughter of his half-sister, and, upon the verdict of a jury, was sentenced by the Court to imprisonment in the State penitentiary for a term of five years. He has appealed in error to this Court. The indictment was based upon § 5646, M. & V. Code, viz.: "No man shall marry or have carnal knowledge of his mother, his father's sister, his mother's sister, his sister, his daughter, the daughter of his brother or sister," etc. Section 5647 further provides, viz.: "No woman shall marry or have sexual intercourse with her father, her father's brother, her mother's brother," etc. The punishment prescribed for this offense is confinement in the penitentiary for a period not less than five nor more than twenty-one years. The first assignment of error is based upon the charge of the Circuit Judge in the construction of this statute, to wit: "The term sister, as used in this connection, would apply as well to the half blood as to the whole blood, so that if you find, from the proof, that the mother of this girl with whom defendant is charged to have had carnal knowledge, was only a half-sister of defendant, still, the offense would be the same as if she had been the daughter of a full sister." We think the charge a sound construction of the statute, and in entire accord with the authorities. This precise question was before the Supreme Court of Vermont in the case of State v. Wyman, 59 Vt. 527, 8 A. 900. The Court said, viz.: "It was objected that the indictment was not sustained by proof that the respondent committed the offense with a daughter of his half-brother, it being claimed that the word brother in the statute was not broad enough to cover a brother of the half blood. In support of this claim, it is urged that, at common law, a brother of the half blood is not a brother, and cannot inherit as such. It is true that, by the common law, a brother of the half blood could not inherit, but this was a rule for the regulation of the descent of property, and had no broader scope. It did not undertake to affect the relations of brethren of the half blood any further than to prescribe, for certain reasons having their origin in the ancient system of feudal tenures, that in the descent of the inheritance, a brother of the half blood should be left out. The common law rule, therefore, would have no force in a case of this kind, but the generally understood significance of the word 'brother,' as used in the common affairs of life, and as defined by lexicographers of recognized authority, should be adopted in the construction of the statute." See, also, Territory v. Corbett, 3 Mont. 50.

We find, upon an examination of the record, that this conviction is based exclusively upon the testimony of the female. She testified that the defendant began to have intercourse with her in the spring or summer of 1893, and kept it up until about Christmas. There was no testimony whatever to corroborate these statements. The defendant was examined as a witness, and positively denied any sexual intercourse. The question presented is whether the conviction can be sustained upon such testimony. In the case of Mercer v. The State, 17 Tex. Ct. App. 452, it was held that if a woman consents to the crime of incest she is an accomplice, and a conviction cannot be had upon her unsupported testimony, and that she must be deemed to have consented where she testifies that the crime was committed between her father and herself weekly for a period of eight years. Again, in the case of Watson v. The State, 9 Tex. Ct. App. 237, the Court said, viz.: "It was entirely upon the testimony of the defendant's daughter, with whom the incestuous intercourse is alleged to have occurred, that the conviction was obtained. It is contended by defendant's counsel that she was an accomplice in the offense, and that, her testimony being uncorroborated in the manner required by law, the conviction is not sustained by sufficient evidence."

"If the witness knowingly, voluntarily, and with the same intent which actuated the defendant, united with him in the commission of the crime charged against him, she was an accomplice, and her uncorroborated testimony cannot support the conviction. But, if in the commission of the incestuous act she was the victim of force, threats, [ fraud, or undue influence, so that she did not act voluntarily, and did not join in the commission of the act with the same intent that actuated the defendant, then she would not be an accomplice, and a conviction would stand, even upon her uncorroborated testimony." Wharton's Cr. Ev., § 440; Freeman v. The State, 11 Tex. Ct. App. 92. There is no evidence in this record of any force, threats, fraud or undue influence practiced by the defendant in accomplishing the incestuous act. On the contrary, the evidence of the female was that the sexual intercourse was commenced in the spring or summer of 1893, and kept up until the following Christmas, which would imply that she consented to it. The Court holds that her uncorroborated testimony is insufficient to support the conviction. and, for this reason, the judgment is reversed and the cause remanded.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #4)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 04:13 AM

9. Astounding. Thanks for the information. n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 01:48 AM

5. I suspect this is the case, the Conviction was upheld by the TN Court of Criminal Appeals



Assigned On Briefs August 2, 2011


Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County

No. 09-04165 John T. Fowlkes, Jr., Judge

No. W2010-01606-CCA-R3-CD - Filed July 11, 2012

Following a Shelby County jury trial, the Defendant, DeWayne Collier, was convicted of aggravated statutory rape. At the time of the crime, the Defendant was forty-two years old and the victim was fourteen years old. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to four years as a Range II, multiple offender. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction because the fourteen-year-old victim was an accomplice and there wasnot sufficient corroborating evidence. After a thorough review of the record on appeal, we conclude that the victim is legally an accomplice regardless of the fact that she cannot be indicted for her own statutory rape. However, we also determine that there is additional evidence to adequately corroborate her testimony. Therefore, we conclude that the evidence
is sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court is Affirmed.

JERRY L. SMITH,J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which ROBERT W.WEDEMEYER and CAMILLE R. MCMULLEN, JJ., joined.

Phyllis Aluko, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Dewayne Collier a/k/a Patrick Collier.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney
General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; and Damon Griffin, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


On Friday September 5, 2008, the fourteen-year-old victim, C.D. , was scheduled to
1 perform with the Earle High School band at a football game. C.D. lived and went to school in Arkansas not far from the Tennessee border. After school she went to her friend’s house. While there, she called the Defendant using the cellphone that belonged to her friend’s mother. C.D. asked the Defendant to pick her up and take her to his house. C.D. did not have permission to go to the Defendant’s house. The Defendant told C.D. he was at work, but that it would not be long before he could pick her up. They determined that he should pick her up at the YM convenience store.

C.D. waited fifteen minutes and told her friend that an uncle was going to pick her up
at the YM convenience store. The walk from her friend’s house to the store was about three minutes. On her way to the store, C.D. ran into her ex-boyfriend. He walked her the rest of the way to the store. When they arrived, the Defendant was already at the store. The Defendant had her get into his red pick-up truck. It was about 5:00 p.m.

The Defendant teased the victim about her ex-boyfriend and asked if she and the boy were boyfriend and girlfriend. She told him they were just friends. The Defendant stopped at a liquor store and bought twelve small bottles of margaritas. C.D. remained in the car. According to C.D., it took about forty minutes to get from the YM convenience store to the Defendant’s duplex in Memphis.

The victim described the Defendant’s residence. She said it was a brick duplex with
a black screen door. The point of entry lead into the kitchen which had a washer and dryer and a sink located in the back.

When they arrived, the Defendant opened one of the margarita bottles, and the Defendant and the victim took a bath together. The bath lasted about thirty minutes. C.D. got dressed in a white tank top that the Defendant gave her to wear. They went into the bedroom, drank the margaritas and began to talk. C.D. noticed that there were pictures of children on the Defendant’s dresser. She asked the Defendant if he was married and had children. The Defendant told her he was not married and did not have any children (See Footnote 1).

FOOTNOTE 1 It is the policy of this Court to refer to victims of sexual crimes and their family members by their

C.D. described the Defendant’s appearance. She said that he had a tattoo of a panther high on his chest. She said the tattoo was placed to cover a scar. She also stated that he had scars on his back from a motorcycle accident. She said that she knew he was over twenty years of age but did not know his exact age.

After lying and talking on the bed for fifteen or twenty minutes, the Defendant and
C.D. had sexual intercourse. C.D. stated that the Defendant wore a condom. The two of them drank the rest of the margaritas, and the Defendant ordered some food from a restaurant on Beale Street. The Defendant and C.D. went to pick up the food. They could not eat at the restaurant because the victim was underage.

When they arrived back at the Defendant’s house, the victim said it was late at night.
They ate their supper and watched a John Wayne movie on television. After the movie, they had sexual intercourse for a second time on the Defendant’s bed. They “washed up” and stayed awake for about thirty minutes before going to sleep in the Defendant’s bed.

They woke up around 7:00 a.m. the next morning. When they awoke, they had sexual intercourse for a third time. This time the Defendant did not wear a condom. At 10:00 or 11:00 a.m., the Defendant’s brother knocked on the door. The Defendant refused to answer the door. The Defendant’s brother went to the bedroom window and knocked on it. C.D.ran to the second bedroom. The Defendant’s brother did not come into the house, and the Defendant did not go outside to see his brother.

After his brother left, the Defendant told C.D. that she could return to the bedroom. The Defendant placed C.D. on the bed, and they had sexual intercourse for a fourth time. C.D. washed with a small face towel. The Defendant washed C.D.’s clothes. C.D. stated that the Defendant did not ejaculate inside her, but instead ejaculated on her stomach.

C.D. testified that she attempted to call her mother, but her mother had the calls blocked. When she could not get in touch with her mother, C.D. told the Defendant that he should wait to take her home until dark. She said that her father worked outside of the house until sundown, and she thought it would be best to get home when her father was inside.

The Defendant took the victim home after dark. He dropped her off at the end of her
driveway. The Defendant told her that he was going to spend the night at his brother’s house.

While C.D. was at the Defendant’s house, her mother, S.D., began searching for her.
S.D. went to the football game on Friday night, but she was unable to locate C.D. When C.D. did not come home Friday night, S.D. assumed that C.D. spent the night with a friend. On Saturday morning, C.D. did not come home. At this point, S.D. began calling C.D.’s friends and driving around town looking for C.D. Between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m., S.D. called the police. S.D. told the police that she had not seen C.D. since she left for school on Friday morning. The police told S.D. they would put out an Amber Alert for C.D. S.D. became hysterical.

S.D. and her sister drove around town to look for the victim some more. They spoke
with the owner at the YM convenience store. He recalled seeing C.D. at the store, but he had no information regarding C.D.’s whereabouts.

S.D. testified that C.D. arrived home between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. on Saturday
evening. She did not see how C.D. got home. C.D. testified that when she arrived home she was met by her father, mother, and brother. Her mother was crying and began asking her where she had been. According to C.D., she lied and told her mother she had been at a friend’s house. C.D. lied because she did not want to get the Defendant in trouble. According to S.D., C.D. refused to tell her how she got home and went straight to her room.

S.D. called the police to let them know that C.D. had arrived home safely. Officers
arrived shortly thereafter to determine what had happened to C.D. They took C.D. outside to the police car and put her in the back. She told the officers that she had been with the Defendant. S.D., who was in the front seat of the police car, had to step out of the car because she became so upset.

After speaking with the officers, C.D. was taken to Crittenden Memorial Hospital.
At the hospital, a nurse conducted tests to complete a rape kit. She took both vaginal and oral swabs and collected C.D.’s clothing. C.D. told the nurse that the panties she gave her were the ones she had been wearing all weekend.

On September 11, 2008, C.D. gave a statement to Lieutenant Evertina Halfacre, an
officer with the Sex Crimes Unit of the Memphis Police Department. The victim stated that she and the Defendant took a bath. After the bath she wore house shoes, a bra, panties, a pair of shorts, and a shirt. On the same date, C.D. identified the Defendant in a photographic lineup as the person with whom she had sexual intercourse. After speaking with C.D. and her father, Lieutenant Halfacre learned how to locate the Defendant. The victim’s father grew up with the Defendant, and the Defendant had been to the victim’s house. C.D. told Lieutenant Halfacre that the Defendant wasforty-two years old, and Lieutenant Halfacre was able to verify the Defendant’s age.

As a result of the statement and identification, a warrant was issued to search the
Defendant’s home. However, Lieutenant Halfacre was unable to locate the Defendant for five days. He returned home on September 17, 2008. The Defendant was irate when he returned home and refused to cooperate with police. He denied that he had had sexual intercourse with C.D.

Lieutenant Halfacre stated that C.D.’s description of the Defendant’s home was
accurate. C.D. told Lieutenant Halfacre that the Defendant lived in a duplex. The Defendant lived next door to his brother. C.D. told Lieutenant Halfacre that the Defendant had photographs of children on the walls of the house. Lieutenant Halfacre testified that C.D. described the floral comforter that was on the Defendant’s bed very accurately. She also described a television set in the room in which they had sexual intercourse. C.D. also described the bathroom as having black and white tile and a black shower curtain. Lieutenant Halfacre also stated the C.D. accurately described the layout of the kitchen, the color and location of the sofa, and the location of the face towels. Lieutenant Halfacre took the comforter and sheets from the bed as well as the towels from the bathroom.

Lieutenant Halfacre identified the Defendant at trial. The day after his home was
searched, the Defendant presented himself at the police station and was arrested.

The Defendant presented three witnesses at trial. Tim Chandler is the vice president
of finance and the record keeper at Chandler Demolition Company, the Defendant’s place of employment on the date in question. He testified that on September 5, 2008, the Defendant worked from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Defendant was working at the Levy Road Landfill and was responsible for closing the landfill and locking the gate when all the employees were gone. Afterwards, the Defendant returned to company headquartersto clock out and get his paycheck. This took about ten minutes.

Willie Crump was the Defendant’s co-worker. On September 5, 2008, he and the Defendant went to cash their paychecks shortly after 4:00 p.m. The Defendant drove Mr. Crump home after they cashed their paychecks. Mr. Crump said the Defendant left his house around 4:30 p.m.

Qadriyyah Debnam, is a forensic analyst with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
(“TBI”). She examined the rape kit submitted for C.D. She examined a blood sample from C.D., vaginalswabs, oralswabs, C.D.’s underwear and clothing. Ms. Debnam also examined a saliva sample from the Defendant and a bed sheet. There was no semen found on the bed sheet, the vaginal swabs, oral swabs, C.D.’s panties, bra, or shirt. Ms. Debnam found semen in the crotch area of C.D.’s jeans. There was no sperm. Ms. Debnam could not determine when the semen would have been deposited on the jeans. She stated that semen can remain on clothing even after the item of clothing has been washed.

On July 7, 2009, the Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant for aggravated statutory rape. Following a jury trial, held on June 3, 2010, the Defendant was convicted as charged. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to four years as a Range II, multiple offender. The Defendant appeals his conviction.


A. Denial of Motion for Judgment of Acquittal

The Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the State’s proof and at the close of the Defendant’s proof. The State argues that the issue is waived because the Defendant offered evidence after the denial of his motion.

According to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(b):

On defendant’s motion or its own initiative, the court shall order the entry of
judgment of acquittal of one or more offenses charged in the indictment,
presentment, or information after the evidence on either side is closed if the
evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction of such offense or offenses.

This Court has noted that “(i)n dealing with a motion for judgment of acquittal, unlike
a motion for a new trial, the trial judge is concerned only with the legal sufficiency of the evidence and not with the weight of the evidence.” State v. Hall, 656 S .W.2d 60, 61 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1983). The standard for reviewing the denial or grant of a motion for judgment of acquittal is analogous to the standard employed when reviewing the sufficiency of the convicting evidence after a conviction has been imposed. State v. Ball, 973 S.W.2d 288, 292 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1998); State v. Adams, 916 S.W.2d 471, 473 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1995).

The law of this state is that the Defendant waives any error by a trial court in denying
a motion for a judgment of acquittal at the conclusion of the State’s proof if the defendant goes on to introduce evidence following the denial of his motion. Finch v. State, 226 S.W.3d 307, 316-18 (Tenn. 2007); Mathis v. State, 590 S.W.2d 449, 453 (Tenn. 1979). At the conclusion of the State’s proof, the Defendant made a motion for judgment of acquittal. After hearing the Defendant’s argument, the trial court denied the motion. The Defendant proceeded to present witnesses and evidence. For this reason, the Defendant has waived this issue with regard to the denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal at the conclusion of the State’s proof.

As stated above, the standard for reviewing a judgment of acquittal is the same of that for sufficiency of the evidence. Below we address the Defendant’s claims that the evidence was insufficient.

B. Sufficiency of the Evidence

The Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for
aggravated statutory rape because C.D. was an accomplice and the State did not present corroborating evidence.

When an accused challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, this Court’s standard of
review is whether, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, “any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S. Ct. 2781, 61 L. Ed.2d 560 (1979); see Tenn. R. App. P. 13(e); State v. Goodwin, 143 S.W.3d 771, 775 (Tenn. 2004) (citing State v. Reid, 91 S.W.3d 247, 276 (Tenn. 2002)). This rule applies to findings of guilt based upon direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, or a combination of both direct and circumstantial evidence. State v. Pendergrass, 13 S.W.3d 389, 392-93 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1999). In the absence of direct evidence, a criminal offense may be established exclusively by circumstantial evidence. Duchac v. State, 505 S.W.2d 237, 241 (Tenn. 1973). The jury decides the weight to be given to circumstantial evidence, and “[t]he inferences to be drawn from such evidence, and the extent to which the circumstances are consistent with guilt and inconsistent with innocence, are questions primarily for the jury.” State v. Rice, 184 S.W.3d 646, 662 (Tenn. 2006) (citations omitted). “The standard of review [for sufficiency of the evidence] ‘is the same whether the conviction is based upon direct or circumstantial
evidence.’” State v. Dorantes, 331 S.W.3d 370, 379 (Tenn. 2011) (quoting State v. Hanson, 279 S.W.3d 265, 275 (Tenn. 2009)).

In determining the sufficiency of the evidence, this Court will not re-weigh or
reevaluate the evidence. State v. Matthews, 805 S.W.2d 776, 779 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1990). Nor may this Court substitute its inferences for those drawn by the trier of fact from the evidence. State v. Buggs, 995 S.W.2d 102, 105 (Tenn. 1999); see also Liakas v. State, 199 Tenn. 298, 286 S.W.2d 856, 859 (Tenn. 1956). “Questions concerning the credibility of the witnesses, the weight and value of the evidence, as well as all factual issues raised by the evidence are resolved by the trier of fact.” State v. Bland, 958 S.W.2d 651, 659 (Tenn. 1997); Liakas, 286 S.W.2d at 859. “A guilty verdict by the jury, approved by the trial judge, accredits the testimony of the witnesses for the State and resolves all conflicts in favor of the theory of the State.” State v. Cabbage, 571 S.W.2d 832, 835 (Tenn. 1978); State v. Grace, 493 S.W.2d 474, 479 (Tenn. 1973). The Tennessee Supreme Court stated the rationale for this rule:

This well-settled rule rests on a sound foundation. The trial judge and the jury
see the witnesses face to face, hear their testimony and observe their demeanor
on the stand. Thus the trial jude and jury are the primary instrumentality of
justice to determine the weight and credibility to be given to the testimony of
witnesses. In the trial forum alone is there human atmosphere and the totality
of the evidence cannot be reproduced with a written record in this Court.

Bolin v. State, 219 Tenn. 4, 405 S.W.2d 768, 771 (Tenn. 1996) (citing Carroll v. State, 212 Tenn. 464, 370 S.W.2d 523 (Tenn. 1963)). This Court must afford the State of Tennessee the strongest legitimate view of the evidence contained in the record, as well as all reasonable inferences which may be drawn from the evidence. Goodwin, 143 S.W.3d at 775 (citing State v. Smith, 24 S.W.3d 274, 279 (Tenn. 2000)). Because a verdict of guilt against a defendant removes the presumption of innocence and raises a presumption of guilt, the convicted criminal defendant bears the burden of showing that the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain a guilty verdict. State v. Carruthers, 35 S.W.3d 516, 557-58 (Tenn. 2000). Importantly, the credibility of the witnesses, the weight to be given their testimony, and the reconciliation of conflictsin the evidence are matters entrusted exclusively to the jury as the trier of fact. Bland, 958 S.W.2d at 659.

Generally, a defendant may be convicted upon the uncorroborated testimony of one
witness. Letner v. State, 512 S.W.2d 643, 649 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1974). However, a
conviction may not be based solely upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice. Monts v. State, 214 Tenn. 171, 379 S.W.2d 34, 43 (Tenn. 1964); State v. Green, 915 S.W.2d 827, 830 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1995). “An accomplice is one who knowingly, voluntarily, and with common intent unites with the principal offender in the commission of a crime.” State v. Allen, 976 S.W.2d 661, 666 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997). The victim of a sex offense may, in some circumstances, be an accomplice to the sex offense (Footnote 2). See Shelley v. State, 95 Tenn. 152, 2 31 S.W. 492 (Tenn. 1895); State v. Scott, 207 Tenn. 151, 338 S.W.2d 581 (Tenn. 1960); State v. Ballinger, 93 S.W.3d 881, 878-88 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2000). Though whether an individual is an accomplice to an offense generally depends on whether the individual could be indicted for the offense, whether a sex crime victim is an accomplice appears, under current law, to depend on whether the victim voluntarily consented to the sexual activity. Scott, 338 S.W.2d

FOOTNOTE 2 We note that, per Tennessee statute, a child sex abuse victim under age thirteen is not, under any 2 circumstances, an accomplice to illicit sexual conduct. T.C.A. § 40-17-121 (2006).

-8-at 583. A victim consenting in response to rape, force, threats, fraud, or undue influence, however, does not voluntarily consent to the sexual conduct and is not an accomplice thereto. Id. Though a victim’s precise role in an episode of sexual abuse is a factual determination, whether the role amounted to that of an accomplice is a question of law. State v. Anderson, 985 S.W.2d 9, 16 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997).

In State v. Je rey Edward Pitts, a panel of this Court sharply criticized the rule subjecting victim testimony to accomplice scrutiny:

We are perplexed as to how a “victim” can be an “accomplice” under any
circumstance. The two terms are mutually exclusive under Tennessee law. A
“victim” is statutorily defined as “the person alleged to have been subjected to
criminal sexual conduct.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-501(8) (1991). However,
an “accomplice” is one who “knowingly, voluntarily, and with common intent
unites with the principal offender in the commission of a crime.” State v.
Green, 915 S.W.2d 827, 831 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1995) (emphasis added).
Furthermore, the “test” to determine if a person is an accomplice to an offense
is whether that person could be indicted for or convicted of that offense. State
v. Green, 915 S.W.2d at 831; State v. Lawson, 794 S.W.2d 363, 369 (Tenn.
Crim. App. 1990).

No. 01C01-9701-CC-00003, 1999 WL 144744, *5, footnote 7 (Tenn. Crim. App., at
Nashville, Mar. 18, 1999), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 11, 1999). We share the Pitts panel’s misgivings as to the cases classifying sex crime victims as accomplices.

In cases where, based upon his or her role in a sex offense, a victim could be indicted
for the offense charged against the defendant, the victim clearly is an accomplice to the sexual conduct at issue. See State v. John Jason Burda, No. M2009-02523-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 1181349, at *11 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, May 4, 2009) (victim in sexual exploitation of minor case held to be accomplice where she sent sexually explicit photographs of herself to defendant), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 23, 2009)). The 1895 case first subjecting sex victim testimony to accomplice scrutiny involved an uncle accused of committing incest with his niece. See Shelley, 31 S.W. at 493. Because the relationship endured over a nine-month period with no evidence of force, threats, fraud, or undue influence, the Court concluded that the niece, who also could be convicted of incest, was an accomplice. Id.

Where a victim’s conduct is not itself illicit, however, the victim’s complicity in sexual
conduct is less obvious. In Ballinger, for example, a fifteen-year-old victim testified that her -9-adult neighbor had sex with her against her will, whereas the neighbor testified the sex was consensual. 93 S.W.3d at 885. This court held that a jury could reasonably conclude from the Defendant’s testimony that the victim consented to the sexual activity and, thus, was an accomplice thereto. Id. at 887-88. In Pitts, however, this Court held that a mentally disabled male victim forced to perform oral sex upon his supervisor was not an accomplice to sexual battery primarily due to his mental defect but also due to his testimony that he engaged in the sexual conduct only because the defendant was his “boss” and he had been directed to do whatever his boss told him to do. 1999 WL 144744, at *6.

The Defendant’s theory at trial was that he did not have sexual intercourse with the victim. We note the Defendant did not call the trial court’s attention to his concerns with the victim’s testimony. In choosing not to object to her testimony on this basis, he failed “to take whatever action reasonably necessary to prevent or nullify the harmful effect” of her testimony. See Tenn. R. App. P. 36(a). Such an objection, of course, would have been at odds with the Defendant’s denial that any sexual intercourse took place. In choosing to pursue this course at trial and, as a result, refraining from raising an objection at trial to the uncorroborated “accomplice” testimony, the Defendant deprived the trial court of the opportunity to address the issue of accomplice testimony and, if the victim was an accomplice, the need for corroboration. Consequently, the Defendant waived review of whether the trial court erred when it placed no findings on the record as to whether the victim was an accomplice. See Tenn. R. App. P. 36(a). As such, we will address the Defendant’s objection only as it relates to the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and not as it relates to the absence of findings as to whether the victim was an accomplice.

Under the current law, it appears that the victim in this case would legally be considered an accomplice to her own statutory rape. This is the case because the proof at trial demonstrated that she consented to have sexual intercourse with the Defendant. See Scott, 338 S.W.2d at 583. We point out that if the general rule based upon whether the individual could be indicted for the offense was the law in regard to these facts, the outcome would havebeen that the victim was not an accomplice. Clearly a fourteen-year-old victim cannot be indicted for aggravated statutory rape because she cannot be ten (10) years older than the statutory rape victim between the ages of thirteen (13) and eighteen (18).

Because it appears, under the current law, that she is an accomplice, this Court must
determine whether there is sufficient evidence to corroborate her testimony. The law in Tennessee regarding accomplice testimony has been described as follows:

The rule simply stated, is that there must be some fact testified to, entirely
independent of the accomplice’s testimony, which, taken by itself, leadsto the
-10-inference, not only that a crime has been committed, but also that the
defendant is implicated in it; and this independent corroborative testimony
must also include some fact establishing the defendant’s identity. This
corroborative evidence may be direct or entirely circumstantial, and it need
not be adequate, in and of itself, to support a conviction; it is sufficient to
meet the requirements of the rule if it fairly and legitimately tends to connect
the defendant with the commission of the crime charged. It is not necessary
that the corroboration extend to every part of the accomplice’s evidence.

Shaw, 37 S.W.3d at 903 (quoting State v. Bigbee, 885 S.W.2d 797, 803 (Tenn. 1994) (citations omitted). Whether sufficient corroboration exists is a determination for the jury. State v. Bigbee, 885 S.W.2d 797, 803 (Tenn. 1994).

Lieutenant Halfacre’s testimony was sufficient corroboration of the victim’s
testimony. Lieutenant Halfacre investigated the accusations and searched the Defendant’s home. When Lieutenant Halfacre searched the Defendant’s house she discovered that the victim had accurately described both the layout and the decor of the Defendant’s home. Lieutenant Halfacre testified about the layout of the house and the photographs of children on the wall about which the victim also testified. Lieutenant Halfacre also referenced the description of the floral comforter. As stated above, corroboration need only connect the Defendant with the crime and does not need to verify all aspects of the evidence presented. See Shaw, 37 S.W.3d at 903.

Now that we have determined there was sufficient corroboration of the victim’s
testimony, we now turn to whether the evidence was sufficient. Aggravated statutory rape is defined as, “the unlawful sexual penetration of a victim by the defendant, or of the defendant by the victim when the victim is at least thirteen (13) but less than eighteen (18) years of age and the defendant is at least ten (10) years older than the victim.” T.C.A. § 39- 13-506(c). The victim was the sole witness to the events at issue. The jury clearly found the victim to be credible. Questions of credibility are determined by the jury. Bland, 958 S.w.2d at 659. When the evidence is taken in the light most favorable to the State, it shows that the victim was fourteen years old and the Defendant was forty-two years old which is more than ten years older than the victim. Also, there was evidence presented of penetration of the victim by the Defendant when they had sexual intercourse.

For this reason, we conclude that there was sufficient evidence to support the
Defendant’s conviction.


For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 03:11 AM

7. Oh for fuck's sake...


even if a 14 year old is "willing", an adult should never put someone that age in that position.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 03:12 AM

8. Holy crap is this Pakistan?

Oh wait no, it's the US.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 08:21 AM

11. The only way I could see this being a fair law

is if both participants were minors. In that case, they both should be held as culpable as any minor ever is for sexual involvement.

Other than that it is simply sick to blame a child for being victimized.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 10:02 AM

12. So, they're not old enough to be responsible for their actions,

but they can be punished for them? Doesn't that kind of undermine the point of statutory rape laws (to protect the victim, who is too young to know the consequences of their actions and are easily preyed upon by adults)?

We laugh at Iran's backward laws all the time, but here is the same ugliness staring us in the eyes.

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Response to Dash87 (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 10:59 AM

15. It depends...

some states, if i remember correctly, have satutory Laws that go something like this:

Legal age of consent is say, 15, but it's only legal for you to OFFER that consent to someone within your own age group (15-17), any older than that, its not legal, even if you decide that you want to and are ready. It allows the legality of young adults to make their own "informed" decisions, WITHOUT the possibility of being manipulated into that decision by some creepy uncle or some such...

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 10:09 AM

13. Right, women as property, that's what lies at the root of this.

The guy is in trouble for using somebody elses property (her fathers) without permission, and SHE is in trouble for letting her fathers property be used without permission.

If the theory is that she is too young to consent, it's going to be hard to argue she is responsible for consenting, and THAT's how you know something else is at work here.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 10:27 AM

14. The fuck is this shit???

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 11:00 AM

16. Hmmm. If perhaps it can be proven the victim told the perp he/she was over 18?

Then I would think 'misrepresentation' on the part of the minor would negate the charges?
Cuz' if you ask most guys over 20 (at least where I grew up) if he'd mess with someone under 18, they'd look you in the eye, say two words: JAIL BAIT, and leave it the hell alone.

I know I was having a hella lot of stupid sex when I was 16-17 and had no clue WTF I was actually doing ... and most of those guys were WELL over 18. Realistically, any and all of them could have been charged with statutory rape except that none of it was "against my will", and in some cases I did tell them I was 18 (or 19).

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Response to Myrina (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 01:52 PM

17. Statutory rape laws are what turns underage people into "jail bait."

It's good that most adult men (and women) understand that.

If a teen lies about her/his age, that doesn't change the fact that the statutory rape has occurred and it doesn't make the minor an accomplice. If it did, prosecuting statutory rape would be nigh on impossible unless the accused adult is a close relative or friend.

eta: statutory rape doesn't need a proof that it was against the will of the minor. Quite the opposite, in fact. Statutory rape means that the law regards the person as not old enough to give consent.

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