Today, in a short published opinion, United States v. J.A.S., the Sixth Circuit rejected a 17-year-old defendant’s challenge to his conviction for sexually assaulting an 8 year old through vaginal penetration.
There was no medical evidence to show an assault, so the government’s case rested on the testimony of the victim.
The defendant made two arguments: (1) that the court shouldn't have admitted video of a forensic interview of the victim, and (2) that the victim's testimony was insufficient to convict him.
The court quickly dispatched the evidentiary argument. The video, the court concluded, fell under Rule 801(d)(1)(B)(ii), which allows for admission of prior consistent statements if offered to rehabilitate a witness after cross-examine.
The court also upheld the sufficiency of the evidence, distinguishing decisions from four other circuits that rejected convictions based solely on victim testimony. The court explained that in each of these cases the victims’ testimonies were vague about whether actual penetration occurred. In contrast, the victim in the case at hand testified at a bench trial that the defendant “put his pee in [her] pee,” that she “felt it” in her, and that it hurt.