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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JAMES MICHAEL SHADE (09/27/76)

decided: September 27, 1976.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
JAMES MICHAEL SHADE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Criminal Division, at No. 475 of 1975. No. 320 April Term, 1976.

COUNSEL

Ballard F. Smith, Jr., Asst. Dist. Atty., Meadville, for appellant.

Stephen Toole, Meadville, for appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Spaeth, J., files a concurring opinion, in which Price, J., joins, as well as in the majority opinion.

Author: Hoffman

[ 242 Pa. Super. Page 116]

The Commonwealth contends that the court erred in dismissing an indictment charging appellant with statutory rape*fn1 and corruption of a minor*fn2 even though the

[ 242 Pa. Super. Page 117]

    complaint was filed beyond the period allowed by ยง 3105 of the Crimes Code.*fn3

The unfortunate facts of the instant case are set out in the able opinion by President Judge Thomas of the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County: "[The victim] is the stepdaughter of [appellee] and if her testimony is believed, she had sexual relations with her stepfather at a motel on March 12, 1974, at a time when she was fifteen years of age. After the night in question, she attended school only a half day, left school and went to a girl friend's house and related to girl friend and girl friend's mother what had happened. The family minister was called and [the victim] related the accusation to the minister. The minister called the Defendant's wife, (natural mother of [the victim]) and related in general terms [the victim's] accusations. [The mother] asked the minister to inquire of [the victim] if she had sexual relations with her husband. [The victim] answered in the affirmative and the minister conveyed this answer to [her mother]. [The victim] requested she be allowed to go to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to live with an aunt and uncle and [the victim's mother] approved the request since she was 'having trouble with her anyway.' [The victim] was transported to Lancaster by the minister and sometime later related what happened to aunt and uncle. Uncle went to see an attorney but nothing further was done. About six to eight weeks after she arrived in Lancaster, [the victim] wrote a letter to her mother spelling out the details of what had happened and expressing a belief that the same fate might befall her younger sister . . . who still remained in the household. [The victim's mother] then called [the victim] and told her she was crazy and that she didn't believe her. Both mother and daughter admit that at the time the event happened 'they were not getting along.'

[ 242 Pa. Super. Page 118]

"We thus have the alleged sexual intercourse occurring on March 12, 1974; notice indirectly given to the mother on March 13, 1974; notice to the aunt and uncle acting as foster parents or guardians probably around late March or early April, 1974; written notice to the mother, confirmed by oral telephone call, in April or May of 1974, but no prosecution until charges were filed by the Pennsylvania State Police on August 4, 1975."*fn4

The lower court concluded that the delay in reporting the offense to the authorities by the victim's mother was a bar to prosecution. It, therefore, quashed the indictment; and the Commonwealth brought this appeal.

Section 3105 of the Crimes Code provides that: "No prosecution may be instituted or maintained under this chapter [Chapter 31, Sexual Offenses] unless the alleged offense was brought to the notice of public authority within three months of its occurrence or, where the alleged victim was less than 16 years old or otherwise incompetent to make a complaint, within three months after a parent, ...


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