Brief Fact Summary. Donald G. Lannan (Appellant) was convicted by a jury of molesting Victim, who was then fourteen years old. At trial, the jury was permitted to hear testimony from another alleged Victim of Appellant’s, who claimed Appellant had molested her in the past, despite the fact that the alleged past instances of molestation were not charged. Appellant appeals his conviction here.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Indiana common law rule that evidence of various types of prior sexual behavior is admissible (as an exception to the general evidence principle that prior bad acts are inadmissible), known as the “depraved sexual instinct exception,” is abandoned, and the essence of Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) is adopted in Indiana as a result. However, the conviction is affirmed, as the “impact” of the evidence of prior sexual behaviors, “was not of sufficient weight to require reversal.”
In determining whether an error in the introduction of evidence affected a defendant's substantial rights, we assess the probable impact of the evidence on the jury.View Full Point of Law
Should the Indiana common law “depraved sexual instinct exception” be abandoned in favor of the standard set forth by Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), which provides, in essence, that evidence of uncharged prior bad acts are not admissible?
Was the admission into evidence of the testimony of Victim and the other alleged victim reversible error?
Yes; the rule should be abandoned and the standard of FRE 404(b) is adopted.
No; the adoption of the new rule does not merit reversal, as the probable impact on the jury was minimal; since other testimony corroborated the testimony of Victim regarding the present charged crime, the conviction is affirmed.
Concurrence. Justice Givan filed an opinion concurring in the result reached by the majority.
Discussion. The opinion stresses that the new rule adopted does not mean that evidence of prior bad acts is per se inadmissible; rather, the opinion states that the newly-adopted rule, “means only that such evidence will no longer be admitted to show action in conformity with a particular character trait. It will continue to be admitted, however, for other purposes such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake.”