Rape victim’s work as prostitute does not excuse assault, COA rules

September 17, 2015

A felon’s attempt to get his rape conviction overturned because his victim was a prostitute drew a sharp rebuke from the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Tywaun Carter was convicted of two counts of Level 1 felony rape after he sexually assaulted A.M. in Indianapolis. During the ordeal, Carter held a gun to A.M.’s head and threatened to shoot her.

A.M. was eventually able to escape. She then called police and submitted to a medical exam which found Carter’s DNA.

Before the Court of Appeals, Carter argued the incredible dubiosity rule should be applied because A.M.’s testimony was uncorroborated and inherently improbable. He admitted to having sexual relations with A.M. but denied he forced her.

Carter tried to support his argument by pointing to A.M.’s actions. She did not tell police and medical personnel she was a prostitute and she gave inconsistent statements as to the number of sexual partners she had had in the 96 hours preceding the rape.

The Court of Appeals held A.M.’s work as a prostitute did not make her less credible. It affirmed Carter’s conviction and 32-year sentence on each count to be served concurrently in Tywaun Carter v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1502-CR-52.

A.M. did not deny she was a prostitute, the Court of Appeals noted, but rather she did not tell law enforcement for fear she would be in trouble as well.

Also, she spoke with police and the forensic nurse immediately after the assault when she was upset and likely afraid. The Court of Appeals found A.M.’s omission in the wake of the traumatic event was not particularly incredible and did not constitute an inconsistency.

In a footnote, the Court of Appeals addressed Carter’s argument to equate his actions with theft of service since he claimed he did nothing more with A.M. than what she was attempting to do for money. The panel characterized Carter’s contention as a reflection of societal prejudice against rape victims who engage in prostitution.

“To the extent that Carter relies on these archaic cultural attitudes, such arguments have no place in our analysis,” Judge Margret Robb wrote for the court. “A.M.’s involvement in prostitution, in and of itself, does not render her testimony incredibly dubious.”  


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