In a prosecution for various sex offenses, People v. Miranda (Oct. 18, 2011, B224163), __ Cal.App.4th __ [2011 DJDAR 15403], the Second District Court of Appeal concluded that evidence of a prior report of sexual abuse involving the victim was properly excluded at trial despite a determination that the report was false.
The victim's grandfather was charged with several sex offenses committed after he crept into the bed of the 15-year-old, who suffered from severe communication and physical difficulties caused by cerebral palsy. At trial, defendant unsuccessfully offered to introduce evidence that the victim had previously made an allegation of sexual abuse against her father, which was determined by the Department of Public Social Services to be unfounded.
Although false reports of molestation or rape are relevant to attack the credibility of the victim, said the court, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the evidence. The report was made by the victim's mother, who was involved in a custody dispute with the father, and there was no indication that the victim had made any statements about the alleged abuse. The conclusion that the claim was unfounded was an opinion of a social worker, and the admissibility of this opinion was doubtful. Considering these circumstances, and the fact that the issue had the potential to confuse the jury and consume an undue amount of time, the evidence was properly excluded.