Exceptions to rape shield laws

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Rudolph Alexander, Jr.


Almost all states and the federal government have statutes designed to protect sexual assault victims from harassing and intimidating questions regarding their past sexual experiences and reputations for chastity. During the Kobe Bryant's sexual assault preliminary hearing, Bryant's attorney was accused of violating Colorado's rape shield statute when she asked whether the alleged victim's reported injuries could have been caused by having sex with three men in a short period of time. Bryant's attorney was immediately -attacked for attempting to smear the victim and violating Colorado's rape shield statute. Unknown to many persons, all rape shield statutes have exceptions; and some exceptions are constitutionally required. A complete ban on questions regarding victims' past sexual experiences would violate defendants' Sixth Amendment right to confront the evidence against them and the Fourteenth Amendment right to due process of Jaw of the U. S. Constitution. The authors discuss the right to confrontation, including a table that shows the exceptions for all states and the federal government.

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