State Supreme Court Overturns Rule Classifying Statutory Rape Victims As Accomplices

Monday, August 12, 2013

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court refused to apply an antiquated rule classifying minor victims of sex offenses as accomplices in the crime and eliminated the requirement that testimony of the victim be corroborated by other independent evidence. The ruling upholds the aggravated statutory rape conviction of DeWayne Collier of Shelby County.

On Sept. 5, 2008, a 14-year-old female high school student who was scheduled to perform with the marching band left school, went to a friend’s house, telephoned the 42-year-old Collier, and arranged to meet with him. The victim spent the night and the following day at Collier’s Shelby County residence. During this time, they engaged in sexual intercourse several times. The next evening, Collier drove the victim to her home, dropping her off at the end of her driveway so that her parents would not detect him.

The police, who had been alerted by the victim’s parents that she was missing, questioned the victim and took her to a local hospital for examination. Semen was found on the victim’s jeans, but medical experts were unable to determine when the semen had been deposited or whether it was that of Collier. Although the victim admitted at trial that she had a relationship with Collier, no other medical evidence confirmed that Collier had engaged in sex with the victim.

At the conclusion of the evidence, the jury found Collier guilty of aggravated statutory rape based primarily upon the testimony of the victim. On appeal, Collier argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction because of several prior court rulings that the testimony of a statutory rape victim had to be corroborated by other proof. The Court of Criminal Appeals found that the victim was an accomplice to the crime, criticized but followed the rule requiring corroboration, yet affirmed the conviction, finding that her testimony was substantiated by other evidence.

The Supreme Court granted review to address the history of the corroboration requirement, beginning with an 1895 case involving a charge of incest, and ruled that the testimony of the victim of a statutory rape, if accredited by the jury, need not be supported by corroborative proof. By so holding, the Court adopted the majority rule among the states, observing that there was “no defensible reason” to classify minor victims of sex crimes as accomplices or to characterize their testimony as “inherently unreliable.”

To read the State of Tennessee v. DeWayne Collier Opinion authored by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, visit TNCourts.gov.


Salon And Spa Joins Cambridge Square

Cambridge Square developers have announced the addition of Spalon Three to the community’s tenant family. Spalon Three, which is owned by Ooltewah resident Shawn Dunn, is a combined spa and salon concept that will occupy 2,500 feet on the community’s public square. Opening date is slated for late spring 2015.  Cambridge Square is a commercial, retail and residential development ... (click for more)

New Hamilton County Businesses

Here are the new business licenses from the County Clerk's office: 3 I'S PERSONAL CARE SERVICES 4447 JAMES DRIVE CHATTANOOGA, TN 37416 ALL AMERICAN SUBCONTRACTOR LLC VARIOUS LOCATIONS CHATTANOOGA, TN 37402 ALL AMERICAN TREE SERVICE 5245 DONLYN LANE HIXSON, TN 37343 ARC FITNESS STUDIO 4716 MURRAY HILLS DR CHATTANOOGA, TN 37416 ARCHITECTURAL ... (click for more)

Cabela's To Open Fort Oglethorpe Store May 13

Cabela’s announced Monday plans to celebrate the official grand opening of its new Fort Oglethorpe store on Wednesday, May 13, with a unique ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a weekend-long celebration featuring giveaways, family activities and more.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony, hosted by Cabela's executives and special guests, will begin at 9:45 a.m. and conclude with ... (click for more)

City Detective Who Was Arrested Twice In 4 Months Is Fired After Internal Affairs Investigation

A city detective who was arrested twice in four months has been fired by Police Chief Fred Fletcher. David Catchings had been charged with DUI last September and then with domestic assault at the end of the year. Police said, "After a complete review of both investigations – which included recommendations from Internal Affairs, the Administrative Review Committee and Officer ... (click for more)

Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The 15-Year-Old Marine

There are 58,267 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall that today sits majestically in the Constitution Gardens of our nation's capital. It has never been lost on me that 33,103 of those who are named were only 18 years old when they died. But what caught my eye during my morning reading is that one of the names carved in the black granite “Dan Bullock“ was only 15 years old ... (click for more)