A Rape Shield Law for Victims

by Julia Cardi

Colorado’s criminal code already bars evidence in rape proceedings related to the victim’s sexual conduct, save for a few exceptions, and civil law may soon follow suit with a new bill, House Bill 1243, known as a “rape shield law,” introduced Feb. 13.

The bill’s sponsors say it plays an important role in preventing defendants from mounting smear campaigns against victims based on their sexual history.

“The issue here is making sure that someone’s prior sexual conduct is not misused in the case, and clouds or prejudices the jury from considering evidence that’s relevant and appropriate,” said Republican Rep. Cole Wist, also a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins.

House Bill 1243, known as a “rape shield law,” creates a presumption in civil rape suits that evidence related to a victim’s sexual conduct is irrelevant and inadmissible except for “evidence of the victim’s prior or subsequent sexual conduct with the defendant; or evidence of specific instances of sexual activity showing the source or origin of semen, pregnancy, disease, or any similar evidence of sexual intercourse offered for the purpose of showing that the act or acts were or were not committed by the defendant.”

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the February 26, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.