Arcoren v. United States

929 F.2d 1235 (1991)

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Arcoren v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
929 F.2d 1235 (1991)



Timothy Arcoren (plaintiff) was charged by the government (defendant) with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse, one count of abusive sexual contact, and one count of sexual abuse of a minor. After going to a dance and drinking with friends, Arcoren returned to his apartment with Arcoren’s nephew, brother, and four young girls. Arcoren had separated from his pregnant wife, Brenda Brave Bird, two days prior. Brave Bird came to the apartment, argued with Arcoren, and left. Arcoren then had sex with Brave Bird’s 15-year-old niece, Charlene Bordeaux, one of the young women with whom Arcoren had spent the evening. Brave Bird returned to the apartment again and encountered Arcoren and Bordeaux in bed. Arcoren then pulled Brave Bird into the room, verbally and physically abused Brave Bird, prevented either woman from leaving, and forced both to have sex with him over the next several hours. This version of events was the story Brave Bird told a police officer the next morning when she fled in Arcoren’s car, hospital staff where the officer sent Brave Bird for medical treatment, a criminal investigator, and the grand jury three days later. Bordeaux essentially corroborated Brave Bird’s account in Bordeaux’s testimony at Arcoren’s trial. However, Brave Bird recanted her testimony and denied that Arcoren had beaten or raped her. The government then called an expert witness, Carol Maicky, to testify regarding battered-woman syndrome, a condition in which abused women will return to and attempt to justify the conduct of their abusers. Maicky was a psychologist and advised that she could not testify that Brave Bird suffered from battered-woman syndrome but could testify about the nature of battered-woman syndrome. The trial court allowed Maicky’s testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 702. Although expert testimony regarding battered-woman syndrome had been used before, the testimony had been used in the context of an accused offering the syndrome to explain actions alleged to be in self-defense. Arcoren appealed his conviction, alleging that Maicky’s evidence should have been excluded and that such evidence should be allowed only if bolstering a claim of self-defense.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Friedman, J.)

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