Evidence of the Absence of Fresh Complaint Is Admissible in Sodomy Prosecution-United States v. Goodman

Defendant was convicted of two counts of sodomy by a general court martial. The alleged victims of the defendant had failed to complain immediately following the incidents, and evidence of such failure on the part of one of the witnesses had been admitted at trial. A Navy board of review affirmed the conviction, modifying the sentence. Defendant appealed to the United States Court of Military Appeals on the ground that it had been prejudicial error for the law officer to refuse to give a proffered instruction to the court-martial panel respecting the victim’s failure to make fresh complaints. On appeal, held, reversed, one judge dissenting. Evidence of the absence of fresh complaint is admissible in a sodomy proceeding, and it is prejudicial error to refuse to give instructions concerning such absence.