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Washington v. Wilson

April 18, 1991

THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
JOSEPH WILLIAM WILSON, APPELLANT



Petrich, J. Worswick, C.j., and Alexander, J., concur.

Author: Petrich

In 1989, Joseph Wilson was convicted of one count of statutory rape in the second degree, former RCW 9A.44.080*fn1 and one count of indecent liberties, former RCW 9A.44.100(1)(b).*fn2 On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in admitting evidence that he physically assaulted the victim and that a witness, Billie Wilson, made a prior false statement under oath, which was at variance with her trial testimony. We affirm.

At trial, the victim testified that when she was 13 years old, she moved in with her sister, Billie Wilson, and her sister's then boyfriend, Joseph Wilson. After about a week, Wilson started molesting the victim. Initially, he did not threaten or assault her. However, as the sexual abuse escalated to sexual intercourse, Wilson began hitting her, kicking her with his steel-toed boots, and digging his fingers into her face. The physical abuse never occurred at the same time as the sexual abuse. However, the victim testified that she was afraid to leave Wilson's home because she feared him and because he threatened to find her if she ever left. The physical abuse continued until the victim was age 15, when she left after a serious beating.

The victim's cousin, Rob Wood, and her aunt, Lucille Wood, corroborated the victim's testimony about the assaults.

Mrs. Billie Wilson testified that Joseph Wilson lived with her during the time of the alleged sexual abuse. However, she admitted that she had previously stated under oath that Wilson did not live with her during the time in question.

Wilson denied that he ever sexually abused the victim; however, the jury convicted him on both counts.

Evidence of Physical Assaults

First, Wilson claims that the evidence of the physical assaults was not relevant under ER 401*fn3 and ER 402*fn4

because he was charged with statutory rape in the second degree and with indecent liberties, not with assault.

The trial court ruled that the evidence was admissible to explain why the victim submitted to the sexual abuse and failed to report or escape it, to rebut the implication that the molestation did not occur and to show Wilson's intent to dominate the victim and create an environment in which he could sexually abuse her, i.e., to show that the physical abuse was part of a larger scheme or plan of sexual abuse.

[1] The admission or exclusion of relevant evidence is within the discretion of the trial court and its decision will not be reversed absent a showing of manifest abuse of discretion. State v. ...


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