Appealing Against a Conviction for Molesting a Child Under the Age of 14 in California

In People v. Daggett (1990) 225 Cal.App.3d 751, the defendant was convicted of molesting a child under the age of 14. (Id. at p. 754.) On appeal, he successfully challenged the trial court's refusal to hold a hearing pursuant to Evidence Code section 782 on the admissibility of evidence that the child had been previously molested by two older children. (225 Cal.App.3d at p. 757.) The defendant's offer of proof consisted of evidence that the child had told a mental health worker and a doctor who had examined him that he had been molested by two older children when he was five years old. (Ibid.) The Daggett court discussed the relevance of a molest victim's sexual history: "A child's testimony in a molestation case involving oral copulation and sodomy can be given an aura of veracity by his accurate description of the acts. This is because knowledge of such acts may be unexpected in a child who had not been subjected to them. In such a case it is relevant for the defendant to show that the complaining witness had been subjected to similar acts by others in order to cast doubt upon the conclusion that the child must have learned of these acts through the defendant. Thus, if the acts involved in the prior molestation are similar to the acts of which the defendant stands accused, evidence of the prior molestation is relevant to the credibility of the complaining witness and should be admitted." (Daggett, supra, 225 Cal.App.3d at p. 757.)