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Government of Virgin Islands v. Pinney

filed: June 22, 1992.

GOVERNMENT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
v.
ROBERT PINNEY APPELLANT



On Appeal from the District Court of the Virgin Islands. (Crim. Action No. 91-00017)

Before: Stapleton, Hutchinson, and Nygaard, Circuit Judges

Author: Stapleton

Opinion OF THE COURT

STAPLETON, Circuit Judge:

Robert Pinney appeals his conviction for aggravated rape in violation of V.I. Code Ann. tit. 14, § 1700(a)(1) (Supp. 1990).*fn1 The district court had jurisdiction over this case under 48 U.S.C. § 1612 and V.I. Code Ann. tit. 4, § 32. We have jurisdiction over Pinney's appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We will reverse and remand for a new trial.

I.

At trial, the alleged victim, Tamisha Colaire, testified that when she was seven years old, she visited Pinney's apartment to pick up her nephew whom Pinney had been babysitting. After escorting her nephew home, she returned to Pinney's apartment to retrieve a bag which contained her nephew's belongings. According to Tamisha, Pinney raped her in his apartment and then warned her "not to tell anyone" or she would "get in trouble." App. 31. Pinney, who was 18 at the time of the alleged offense, testified that Tamisha had been to his apartment on the day in question but that there had been no assault.

Prior to the trial, the government filed a motion in limine requesting that it be allowed to introduce the testimony of Tamisha's sister, Jamila. Jamila, who was thirteen at the time of the trial, alleged that Pinney had raped her when she was six years old. The court reserved ruling on the government's motion, pending developments at trial.

During the defense counsel's cross examination of Tamisha, the following exchange took place:

Q: Did there come a time when [Assistant U.S.] Attorney Francis spoke to you . . . ?

A: Yes.

Q: What did she discuss with you?

A: Nothing much. She was just asking me how much time did I get molested?

Q: What did you tell her?

A: I told her I got molested. I told her I got molested more than once.

Q: More than once?

A: Uh-huh.

Q: Who molested you?

A: Robert Pinney.

Q: Isn't it true, Tamisha, that you told the police that he only ...


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