Posted On: February 17, 2012 by Stephen Bilkis

Sexual abuse can be everywhere, it might be occurring in our own home.

Sexual abuse can be everywhere, it might be occurring in our own home. According to a Defense Lawyer, on September 5, 1995, James L. Archer was convicted by the County Court of crimes of sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. During trial, the 13-year-old victim testified that prior to the commission of the crimes, James L. Archer, a 31-year-old live in companion of the victim’s aunt, told her that he wanted to rape her and have a baby with her. She further testified that Archer threatened to kill her whole family if she revealed his feelings about her to anyone. The victim indicated that she believed these threats and, for that reason, did not immediately report the crimes.

Based on the report, Archer’s initial argument on his appeal was that the jury’s verdict finding him guilty of two counts of the crime of sexual abuse is not supported by legally sufficient evidence in that there is no proof of forcible compulsion. As relevant here, ‘Forcible Compulsion’ means to compel by either use of physical force; or a threat, express or implied, which places a person in fear of immediate death or physical injury to herself or another person. The higher court held that given the victim’s young age and Archer’s dominance over her by reason of his age and relationship with her aunt, the jury could have reasonably inferred that Archer accomplished the sexual contact through the use of threats that placed the victim in fear of immediate death or physical injury to herself or members of her family.

Another argument that Archer had pointed out was that he was discriminated by the admission of evidence regarding prior bad acts of sexual nature that he purportedly perpetrated upon the victim. Generally, a source said, such evidence may not be offered to show Archer’s bad character or his inclination toward crime but may be admitted if the acts help establish some element of the crime under investigation. This exception was said to be applicable in this case since the challenged testimony was admitted to establish that Archer engaged in a course of conduct that was likely to be injurious to the physical or moral of the victim, an essential element of the crime of endangering the welfare of a child that was charged in two counts of indictment.

A court official relayed that the trial panel produced a psychotherapist who presented testimony pertaining to child sex abuse syndrome. He said that the Supreme Court have held such testimony admissible provided it is limited to explaining behavior that might appear unusual to a lay juror and is not used to show that the alleged victim’s behavior was consistent with patterns of behavior exhibited by victims of proven sexual abuse. The Court held that, the prosecutor posed a hypothetical question to the expert that subsumed the evidence in this case and asked if the hypothetical victim’s behavior was unusual with respect to child sex abuse syndrome. Further, the lower court gave limiting instructions in its charge that the expert could not render an opinion on the issue of whether the victim was sexually abused.

Upon Archer’s conviction of two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, Archer was sentenced to consecutive indeterminate terms of imprisonment of 2 to 7 years, a friend added. Taking into account Archer’s previous conviction of a sex-related crime involving this victim and the predatory nature of the crimes that carry a high risk of recidivism, the higher court did not consider the sentence harsh or excessive.

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