The attorney for a man accused of rape and sexual assault says the state's rape shield law harms his client's right to a fair trial and is unconstitutional. Tim Parker filed a notice Friday he intends to challenge the law before the trial of Michael Reagan of Springdale.The defendant used to be a high school basketball coach and the victims which his attorney believe are being shielded illegally in this particular case are 2 boys.
The problem with basing this challenge on the defendant's constitutional rights is that these constitutional rights belong to all of us -- including those of us who have been raped. Yet due process rights and the right to not have purely prejudicial evidence admitted at trial are often viewed as only applying to those accused of sex crimes not those who report those types of crimes.
The rape shield laws need to be protected so that sex crime trials don't turn into unbridled attacks on victims. These personal attacks serve 2 purposes. The first is to sway a judge or jury. The second is to sway victims out of reporting or cooperating with the police and prosecution.