The Appellate Group

State v. Eddington

State v. Eddington, 2023 UT App 19 (Christiansen Forster, J.)


Emily claimed Eddington raped her after he spent the night after their first date. She had told him before that she’d had multiple sexual partners and was talented at giving blow jobs. During the sexual encounter, she coached him through various sexual positions, requested oral sex from him, told him she was climaxing, told him she was on birth control so pregnancy was not a concern, and told him it was “no big deal” when he expressed religious remorse. She later told her roommates he raped her, showing ripped jeans as evidence. At trial, evidence of her prior sexual past was excluded under rule 412, but the State opened claiming he “took her virtue,” and she testified that she told him “no” twenty times because she “was not that kind of girl.” The jury acquitted him of most charges. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed his remaining convictions, holding:

  • Rule 412 cannot be both a shield and a sword. Emily’s testimony that she “was not that kind of girl” and the State’s opening claiming that Eddington “took her virtue” opened the door to admitting evidence of her prior sexual activity, which was essential to his defense, even considering rule 412.
  • Trial counsel was deficient for failing to question Emily about the details of her sexual encounter with Eddington.
  • Practice Tip: There is a difference between hearing the accused claim details of a sexual event to be true and having them confirmed by the alleged victim. Under those circumstances, testimony by the alleged victim is not cumulative.

Read the full court opinion