Navy Judge’s Rape Shield Ruling Reversed by Highest Military Court

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has issued a highly useful ruling in United States v. Savala, 70 M.J. 70 (2011). Savala reversed the rape conviction because the military judge prevented defense counsel from challenging the testimony of the alleged victim about her prior sexual assault incident; which civilian law enforcement authorities had deemed “unfounded.” Notably, the prosecution curiously “opened the door” with regard to the previous incident in order to justify her delay in reporting this alleged rape.  Savala does an excellent job in highlighting the general weaknesses of rape cases when the only direct evidence is a heavily intoxicated victim.


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