A proposal. LtCol Greg Curley, Exploitation. 230 Mil. L. Rev. 421 (2023). The author proposes the adoption of an enumerated offense under UCMJ Art. 134, which he suggests would criminalize “Precursor Behaviors to Sexual Assault.” As part of the offense, he also suggests what most of us would consider a service-connection requirement. He suggests,
Exploitation is a separate and distinct offense from a sexual assault, and both the exploitation and the consummated offense that was its object may be charged, tried, and punished. The commission of the intended offense may satisfy the intent element of the exploitation charge.
He does not address whether the offense should be labeled a lesser included offense, the potential for multiplicity questions, or whether the acts of the new offense are res gestae acts that may be separately punished. This will be an area of litigation. For example,
United States v. Gaddy, ARMY 21050227, 2017 CCA LEXIS 179, at *5 (Army Ct. Crim. App. 20 Mar. 2017) (summ. disp.) ("When conduct is inexorably intertwined with the alleged offense itself, it is not 'other sexual behavior,' but rather becomes part of the res gestae of the offense. That is, the testimony 'was admissible as part of the same transaction as the assault.") (citing United States v. Peel, 29 M.J. 235, 239 (C.A.A.F. 1989).
Res gestae evidence is vitally important in many trials. Id. at 393. See also United States v. Peel, 29 M.J. 235, 239 (CMA 1989). It enables the factfinder to see the full picture so that the evidence will not be confusing and prevents gaps in a narrative of occurrences which might induce unwarranted speculation:
United States v. Metz, 34 M.J. 349, 351 (C.A.A.F. 1992).
He does suggest making the offense a specific intent one, to which an accused’s level of intoxication may be a defense. (Remember, alcohol is a consistent factor in many sex offense cases for both the accused and the alleged victim.)
Voluntary intoxication, whether caused by alcohol or drugs, is not a defense. However, evidence of any degree of voluntary intoxication may be introduced for the purpose of raising a reasonable doubt as to the existence of actual knowledge, specific intent, willfulness, or a premeditated design to kill, if actual knowledge, specific intent, willfulness, or premeditated design to kill is an element of the offense.
And he acknowledges “there will likely be constitutional challenges to the proposed crime (e.g., void for vagueness, notice, or overbreadth).”
It may be overactive imagination on my part, but could there be a Hills/Hukill problem?
A final question, is the proposal just another way of charging an attempt to sexually assault under Article 80?
Disclaimer: Posts are the authors' personal opinions and do not reflect the position of any organization or government agency.
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