Preventing defendants from introducing prior prostitution arrests and convictions as evidence of consent in a sexual assault prosecution

On May 18, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania confirmed that the state’s rape shield law does not permit defendants to introduce a victim’s sexual history with third parties, including prior acts of prostitution, as a defense tactic attempting to prove consent. 

Prior to the ruling, attorneys at the Women’s Law Project partnered with AEquitas to author and file an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on behalf of 26 additional organizations devoted to improving judicial and societal responses to victims and survivors of sexual abuse in this case (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Eric Rogers). The brief argued that Pennsylvania’s Rape Shield Law does not permit the introduction of evidence of a victim’s criminal record for prostitution-related offenses to prove consent.

“Engaging in commercial sex with other persons, whether by choice or not, has no relevance to the veracity of a rape allegation.”  – Terry L. Fromson, WLP managing attorney and co-author of the brief


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