Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

11/24/97 COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. DONALD R.

November 24, 1997

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE
v.
DONALD R. ALLISON, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of the Superior Court at No. 3792 Philadelphia 1993 entered May 12, 1994, affirming the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Pleas of Montgomery County, at Nos. 3671-92, 3671.1-92, 3671.2-92, 3671.3-96, and 3671.4-92 entered November 22, 1993. Before: Flaherty, C.j., And Zappala, Cappy, Castille, Nigro And Newman, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Zappala

JUSTICE ZAPPALA

DECIDED: November 24, 1997

We granted allocatur to address the issue of whether the trial court erred in allowing a lay person to testify as to the condition of a rape victim's hymen. We find that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting such testimony. Therefore, we vacate the judgment of sentence and remand for a new trial.

Following a jury trial, Appellant, Donald R. Allison, was convicted of statutory rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and aggravated indecent assault. Appellant's motion for a new trial and arrest of judgment was denied and he was sentenced to an aggregate imprisonment term of seven to fourteen years. Appellant appealed to the Superior Court, which affirmed the judgment of sentence.

The record reveals that the complainant, the seven-year-old daughter of Appellant's common-law wife, lived with her aunt, Mildred Harvey, in North Carolina. In 1991, the complainant, with her two sisters and her brother, came to visit their mother in Norristown, Pennsylvania for the months of July and August. Upon returning to North Carolina, Harvey noticed blood stains on the complainant's underwear. Harvey took the complainant to a physician, who informed the aunt that the bleeding could have been caused by a sexual assault. The complainant subsequently told her aunt that Appellant had touched her and sexually assaulted her in August, 1991.

At trial, the complainant's examining physician did not testify. Harvey testified as to her observations of the condition of the complainant's hymen which she made during the physician's gynecological examination of the complainant. On direct examination, the aunt's testimony concerning her observations during the physician's examination of the complainant was as follows:

Q. Do you know whether the doctor performed a physical examination of [complainant]?

A. Yes, she did.

Q. Who was present for that physical examination?

A. I was and her assistant, nurse.

Q. During the time of the physical examination, were [complainant's] pants or panties on or off?

A. They were off.

Q. Did you have a chance to observe her vaginal area?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. Do you know what a hymen is?

A. Yes, I do.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Your Honor, great latitude was given during direct examination of the victim as a result of --

THE COURT: Are you objecting?

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Yes.

THE COURT: Don't lead as much.

:

Q. Do you know what a hymen is?

A. Yes.

Q. What is it, as best you can describe?

A. It is the thin layer of skin over the opening of the vagina.

Q. What was the condition of [complainant's] vaginal area with regard to her hymen?

A. It was split.

Q. What do you mean by it ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.