Righter v. State

In Righter v. State, 752 P.2d 416, 420 (Wyo. 1988), the Court established that the language of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-2-302(a)(iv) "should not be analyzed in a vacuum. Rather, it should be considered in light of the obvious legislative intent of protecting a class of persons who cannot fully comprehend what they are doing." The Court explicitly addressed whether Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-2-302(a)(iv) was unconstitutionally vague, finding that "what is clearly proscribed is the infliction of sexual intrusion on a victim who is mentally deficient. In essence, an ordinary intelligent person applying common sense to the statute would not have to guess at its meaning to understand that to avoid punishment under the statute, one must refrain from performing a sex act with a person who the actor knows, or should know, is mentally incapable of understanding the nature and possible consequences of sexual activity. No other meaning would be attributed by persons of ordinary sensibility than that which the statute clearly states. Section 6-2-302(a)(iv) is not unconstitutionally vague." (Righter, 752 P.2d at 420.) In Righter, the appellant, a stranger, inflicted sexual intrusion on two "mildly retarded" victims after inviting them to his home and providing them alcohol and at least one other substance. The victims had IQ's of 65 and 61 and functioned essentially as nine-year-olds. Id. at 421. One victim had previously engaged in sexual activity with a female, and the other victim had a "limited capability" to understand the nature of his conduct. Id. at 419, 421. After reviewing an array of evidence regarding the outward manifestation of the victims' mental deficiencies, the victims' mental capabilities, and whether the victims were indeed able to appraise the nature and consequences of their conduct, we concluded that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the appellant's conviction. Id. at 421. The Court evaluated the sufficiency of the evidence as to whether the appellant in that case knew or reasonably should have known that his two "mildly retarded" victims had mental or developmental deficiencies, and whether as a result of those deficiencies, the victims were incapable of appraising the nature of their conduct. In doing so, the Court pointed to evidence regarding the victims' outward appearances of mental or developmental deficiencies, their ability to interact socially and understand the significance of sexual activity, their ability to make adult rationalizations or decisions about the activity itself and understand the ramifications of adult relationships that include sexual activity, the victims' IQ's and age equivalent functioning levels, and their resulting vulnerability to manipulation. Id.