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Appeals Court reverses statutory rape conviction because of irrelevant evidence of defendant’s possession of gay pornography

In Commonwealth v. Christie, the Appeals Court reversed the defendant’s convictions for statutory rape “because evidence of [his] possession of videotape depictions of adult men engaged in same-sex sex was improperly admitted to demonstrate the defendant’s sexual interest in the alleged victim, a twelve year old boy.” At trial, the judge admitted testimony describing the acts depicted in the videotapes on the grounds “that the same-sex pornography was relevant to the defendant’s sexual interest in [the victim] and to the manner and means by which the charged … sexual assault[s] were allegedly committed.” The judge gave the jury a limiting instruction to that effect. In its decision, the Appeals Court ruled that because “evidence of an adult’s homosexuality is irrelevant to sexual interest in children,” “[t]he admission of the descriptions of [the defendant’s] videotapes for the purpose of showing interest in sex with [the victim] was… error, as was the instruction permitting the jury to use the evidence for this purpose.”

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