Sexual Assault

 Reporter’s Note

In 2021, the legislature revised and reformulated the sexual assault statutes. See 2021, No. 68 (eff. July 1, 2021). The revision removed the element of “compulsion” from § 3252(a) and refined the definition of “consent,” among other changes. The current instructions reflect these changes. 

Sexual Act.  Where the State’s information specifies the type of sexual act alleged, the trial court should use the term “the alleged sexual act” rather than “a sexual act” when instructing the jury on the essential elements. State v. Stephens, 2020 VT 87, ¶ 19, 213 Vt. 253. Additionally, to avoid juror confusion, the court should instruct on the specific sexual act charged, rather than identifying all the statutorily defined types of sexual acts when explaining the elements of sexual assault. Id. 

Lack of Consent.  Lack of consent may be shown without proof of resistance.  Evidence that the victim’s cooperation arose out of fear may show lack of consent.  State v. Desautels, 2006 VT 84, 180 Vt. 189.