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Commonwealth v. Harris

74 Mass. App. Ct. 105 (2009)

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Commonwealth v. Harris

Appeals Court of Massachusetts

74 Mass. App. Ct. 105 (2009)

Facts

Carlos Johnson met a 13-year-old girl, Jane Smith, on a telephone chat line. Johnson and Smith arranged to meet in person at Smith’s home. Johnson asked Daniel Harris (defendant) to drive Johnson and two other men to Smith’s house. Smith came out of the house and was initially prevented from leaving by her father. Smith then left from a different exit and got into the car. Harris drove them to a liquor store and bought alcohol. Johnson convinced Smith to drink from the liquor bottle and told her that they were going for a drive. Harris drove them to a motel. Johnson convinced Smith to go inside with them. Smith was too intoxicated to walk by herself and was helped inside. Johnson and the other two men took turns having sex with her as she drifted in and out of consciousness. According to Smith, Harris went inside the motel room, sometimes watching them, sometimes watching television. According to Harris, he dropped them off at the motel and left until Johnson called him to come back and get them. Harris then drove them back to Smith’s neighborhood. Smith was dropped off in the vicinity of her home and stumbled back. Smith was taken to the hospital and had a blood-alcohol level of .131. Harris was charged with statutory rape under a joint-venture theory of liability. Harris admitted that Smith looked young, but denied knowing that she was under 18. The jury convicted Harris, and he filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that the prosecution did not prove that Harris knew Smith was underage. The trial court denied the motion, and Harris appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McHugh, J.)

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