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State v. Rusk

    Brief Fact Summary. Defendant Rusk was found guilty by a jury of second-degree rape, however, there was no evidence of resistance. The question for the Court was whether there was sufficient evidence of apprehension on the part of the alleged victim such that the jury could find Defendant guilty.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. The reasonableness of a rape victim’s apprehension is a question of fact for the jury to determine.

    Facts. Defendant was found guilty by a jury of second-degree rape under the Maryland Code which provides that “A person is guilty of rape in the second degree if the person engages in vaginal intercourse with another person by force or threat of force against the will and without consent of the other person.” According to Pat, the alleged victim, Defendant had taken away her car keys and asked her to accompany him to his room. Pat testified that she feared that Defendant would rape her and claimed that he forced her to perform oral sex and then vaginal intercourse. On appeal, the conviction was reversed by the Court of Special Appeals for the reason that the victim’s testimony did not show any resistance on her part or fear that would overcome her attempt to resist or escape. Here, the Court of Appeals of Maryland reviews the decision of the Court of Special Appeals.

    Issue. Is the reasonableness of a rape victim’s apprehension of fear a question of law or a question of fact?

    Held. The reasonableness of a rape victim’s apprehension is a question of fact for the jury to determine. Judgment reversed.
    The Court need not determine whether the defendant’s conduct was reasonably calculated to produce fear in the alleged victim. The only question is whether there is enough evidence from which it can be deduced that the victim’s apprehension was reasonable in light of the circumstances.

    Dissent. The dissent disagrees with the majority’s conclusion that, absent a court determination that the defendant’s conduct was reasonably calculated to produce fear in the prosecutor, the reasonableness of the alleged victim’s apprehension of fear was a fact for the jury to determine. Because rape is regarded as a crime of violence, there must be evidence of conduct on the part of the defendant to show that the alleged victim’s fears were created by the defendant.

    Discussion. This case brings up the difficulty of proving or disproving force implicit in rape cases where there is no evidence of resistance.


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