Appeals Court (June 13, 2007)
In an SDP civil commitment trial, police reports alleging rape are admissible under G.L. c. 123A, s.14(c), even if the charges were reduced to a non-sexual lesser-included offense in consideration of a plea.
In 1978, the defendant was charged with rape. He lured two 14 year old girls into his home, plied them with alcohol, and raped one of them. During the course of the investigation police spoke to two other girls who had also visited the defendant numerous times and to whom he gave alcohol and displayed pornographic material. The defendant pleaded guilty to so much of the indictment as alleged assault and battery and was sentenced to two years in the House of Correction.
In 1989, as a consequence of allegations by his stepdaughter, the defendant plead guilty to two counts of rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a child and was sentenced to state prison. In 1999, the Commonwealth petitioned for an SDP commitment. After a jury trial, the defendant was found to be an SDP and was sentenced to Bridgewater for one day to life. He appealed.
Issue 1: Admissibility in SDP trials of police reports where defendant pled guilty to a non-sexual offense.
The defendant argued that police reports from the 1978 case should have been excluded from evidence, as he was initially charged with sexual offenses but pled guilty to simple assault and battery. G.L. c. 123A, s. 14(c) provides that "police reports relating to such person's prior sexual offenses" are admissible in SDP trials. The court noted that police reports referring to charged sex offenses are admissible, even where the charges are later reduced to non-sexual lesser-included offenses. The fact that the defendant was able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain does not negate the underlying facts that involved a rape.
Issue 2: Evidence in SDP trials of uncharged sexual misconduct.
The defendant also argued that a follow-up police report in the 1978 case should have been excluded because it referenced the defendant's uncharged misconduct with the other two girls. The court noted that the phrase "relating to" in G.L. c. 123A, s. 14(c) has been broadly interpreted to include not only facts directly relevant to the crime charged, but also evidence of the defendant's conduct and the circumstances attendant to the offense. Here, the police report contained facts relevant to the defendant's pattern of conduct and described his behavior within hours of the charged crime.