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David P. Hoult v. Jennifer Hoult

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
157 F.3d 29 (1st Cir. 1998)


Jennifer Hoult (defendant) (Jennifer) filed a lawsuit against her father, David P. Hoult (plaintiff) (David), that alleged her father had sexually abused and raped her when she was young. Since the statute of limitations had run, Jennifer had to show that her memory of the alleged abuse and rape had been repressed until her recent therapy sessions. Dr. Brandt appeared as an expert witness and testified that repression occurred after repeated acts of sexual abuse. Jennifer testified about five specific times her father raped her. The jury rejected the statute of limitations defense, essentially finding that Jennifer had repressed memories, and in favor of Jennifer. David appealed but his appeal was dismissed for lack of prosecution. After the jury verdict, Jennifer sent letters to several professional associations stating that her father raped her. David sued Jennifer for defamation based on the charge of rape in the letters. Jennifer moved to dismiss the defamation charge on collateral estoppel grounds, arguing that the jury in the earlier trial had determined that her father raped her so he could not relitigate that issue. The district court first denied Jennifer’s motion to dismiss but later granted her motion and dismissed David’s defamation suit. David appealed, arguing that the jury never determined that he committed rape. The appellate court found that David’s suit was barred by collateral estoppel and affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the defamation charges against Jennifer.

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