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Government of the Virgin Islands v. Scuito

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
623 F.2d 869 (1980)


Facts

Louis Scuito (defendant) was charged with sexually assaulting a woman who worked as a waitress at a restaurant he frequently visited. One evening at the restaurant, Scuito gave the victim a ride home. Scuito took a detour down a beach road where the two had sexual intercourse. The only dispute was whether it was consensual. The victim testified that when she resisted Scuito’s advances he told her that he had a knife and would “throw her into the ocean if she did not cooperate.” Although she said she did not see a knife, she felt “something metal” cut into her neck. Thereafter, she stopped resisting and Scuito eventually took her home. Upon being dropped off at home, the victim kissed Scuito on the forehead because she said she was “praying for him.” At trial, there was medical testimony that the victim had a cut on the side of her neck where she said the knife was held. Scuito’s version of the events was very different. Scuito testified that on the way to the victim’s apartment they drove down the beach road to smoke marijuana. Scuito said the victim initially resisted his advances, but later changed her mind without a show of force or threats. Scuito’s first trial ended in a mistrial after the prosecutor indirectly referenced that Scuito previously had raped another woman after threatening to shoot her with a flare gun. The prosecutor had agreed not to mention the incident during a discussion between counsel and the court. Prior to the second trial, Scuito’s counsel moved to have the victim psychiatrically examined. Defense counsel submitted an affidavit where he represented that the victim often appeared “spaced out,” that she possibly used controlled substances and dressed in a provocative manner. Defense counsel’s motion was denied and Scuito was ultimately convicted of rape. Scuito appealed, arguing that the trial judge abused his discretion in denying Scuito’s motion for a psychiatric examination of the victim.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Adams, J.)

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