State v. Cassidy
3 Conn.App 374, 489 A.2d 386 (1985)

  • Cassidy was accused of date rape.
    • The victim claimed that she willingly went home with him but then told him to stop.
    • He claimed that she didn’t.
      • She had slept with Cassidy twice before.
  • At trial, Cassidy attempted to introduce evidence of the victim’s prior sexual conduct.
    • Cassidy had a witness prepared to testify that the victim had engaged in almost identical behavior with him a year before.
      • Cassidy argued that showed a pattern or prior conduct by the victim.
    • The victim argued that the evidence was too prejudicial.
      • She also denied engaging in that behavior.
  • The Trial Judge allowed Cassidy to introduce evidence of previous encounters between the victim and Cassidy, but not evidence of the victim’s encounters with others.
    • The Trial Judge looked to Connecticut State law, which said that evidence of a victim’s prior sexual conduct is inadmissible unless the Trial Court concludes that it fits into an exception.
      • In this case Cassidy argued that it met the exception that permits evidence to be admitted if it is “so relevant and material to a critical issue that excluding it would violate the defendant’s constitutional rights.”
  • The Trial Court found Cassidy guilty of sexual assault.  He appealed.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate Court found that unless the testimony was that the victim had made a false claim of sexual assault following the similar encounter, then the evidence should be excluded.
      • The victim’s behavior with another man had no bearing on what happened between her and Cassidy.
      • If she had made a false claim after that previous encounter, the evidence would be admissible in order to impeach her testimony.
    • Cassidy argued that he was trying to establish a pattern of conduct, but the Court found that one previous instance did not establish a pattern.
      • The Court noted that maybe if Cassidy had a number of men all testify to victim’s identical behavior in a number of encounters, that would be sufficient to establish a pattern of conduct.