NASHVILLE (AP) – The Tennessee Supreme Court has overturned an antiquated rule classifying statutory rape victims as accomplices.
The court on Monday also issued a unanimous opinion to eliminate the requirement that testimony of the victim be corroborated by other independent evidence.
The ruling upholds the statutory rape conviction of DeWayne Collier of Shelby County. He was convicted in 2010 of having sex with a 14-year-old Arkansas girl.
"In summary ... the evidence presented at trial – including the testimony of the victim, which need not be corroborated – is sufficient to sustain the defendant's conviction for aggravated statutory rape," according to the opinion.
Prosecutors said that in September 2008, the girl – instead of taking part in her high school band's performance at a football game in Earle, Ark. – went to a friend's house and called Collier in Memphis to come and pick her up. The state contends the two had sex multiple times.
The high court had expressed interest in issues raised by Collier's case, including whether the victim of a sexual offense can be a criminal accomplice.
The rule came about through an 1895 case in which a man was tried on charges that he had sex with his underage niece. A court ruled that, since they were related, both the man and the girl could be convicted of incest.
The view held that an underage sex crime victim could be considered an accomplice in the crime against her or him.
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