Garnett v. State

332 Md. 571 (1993)


Under Maryland law, a person is guilty of rape in the second degree if the person engages in vaginal intercourse with another person: .... (3) Who is under 14 years of age and the person performing the act is at least four years older than the victim. Garnett (D) was a young retarded man who was 20 but with an I.Q. of 52. He was described as a mildly retarded person who read on the third-grade level, did arithmetic on the 5th-grade level, and interacted with others socially at school at the level of someone 11 or 12 years of age. Because he could not understand the duties of the jobs given him, he failed to complete vocational assignments; he sometimes lost his way to work. He was unable to pass any of the State's functional tests required for graduation, he received only a certificate of attendance rather than a high-school diploma. D was introduced to Erica Frazier, 13, and after a few interactions, went to her home, talked, and had sexual intercourse. Erica gave birth to a baby. D was tried on one count of second-degree rape. At trial evidence that Erica and her friends had told D that she was 16 was excluded at trial. At trial, the defense twice proffered evidence to the effect that Erica herself and her friends had previously told D that she was 16 years old and that he had acted with that belief. The trial court excluded such evidence as immaterial, explaining: the only two requirements as relate to this case are that there was vaginal intercourse, [and] that . . . Ms. Frazier was under 14 years of age and that . . . D was at least four years older than her. The court held that consent is no defense to this charge. The victim's representation as to her age and the defendant's belief, if it existed, that she was not underage, what amounts to what otherwise might be termed a good faith defense, is, in fact, no defense to what amounts to statutory rape. This was a strict liability offense. D was found guilty and appealed.