LEVENTHAL, Circuit Judge.
In this case we hold that appellant's conviction for assault with intent to commit rape (in violation of D.C.Code § 22-501) must be reversed because the trial judge failed to instruct the jury on the need for corroboration of the testimony of the victim on the elements of the sex offense. However, both the evidence and the findings of the jury plainly support a conviction for assault, and in the interest of justice we do not require a new trial but remand to the district court to determine, after hearing from counsel, whether to enter judgment and sentence for assault or to order a new trial. In the event of new trial, the judge should provide clarification of the instructions in other respects as set forth in the opinion.
I. THE EVIDENCE, AND THE CORROBORATION OF COMPLAINANT'S TESTIMONY, WAS SUFFICIENT TO GO TO THE JURY.
The chief witnesses at trial were the complainant and the appellant, who told substantially different versions of the incidents surrounding the alleged assault with intent to rape.
A. The Complainant's Testimony
Complainant testified that on April 24, 1968, she was in her second-floor apartment in northeast Washington, when appellant, the brother of her next-door neighbor, whom she had previously met only casually, knocked on the door, began a conversation, and asked for a drink of water. She allowed him in, gave him the water, refused the offer of one of the two beers he had in a paper bag, and left the living room to tend to her napping child. As she was returning from the child's room, appellant met her in the corridor between the bedroom and living room, put his arm around her, and told her in unmistakable street language that he wanted to have sexual intercourse with her. Appellant then tugged at her — "he just kept tugging at me" — until the two fell to the floor. After a brief struggle, complainant broke free and ran toward the front door. Appellant caught up with her in the living room and grabbed at her, tearing the strap of her dress off her shoulder just as she reached the door and fled from the apartment. She screamed for help and no one came to her assistance. Appellant left her apartment and she ran back inside, closing the self-locking door as she entered. She went to the kitchen, but returned when she heard someone "jiggling" the handle. A look through the peephole revealed that it
When the police arrived they saw appellant at the foot of the basement stairway and brought him up to complainant's apartment where she identified him as "the man that tried to rape me."
B. Appellant's Testimony
Appellant gave quite a different account. He testified that he had been in complainant's apartment on three or four previous occasions, "smooching," and had once convinced complainant to go with him to a tourist home to have sexual relations, though she ultimately refused because she was afraid that her fiance would find out.
On the day in question he stopped at her apartment with six cans of beer in a paper sack. The two sat down in her living room and began drinking the beer. She told him they could be friends if he would just stop drinking and "straighten up." When he objected to her demand an argument began and there was some name-calling. The argument lasted 15 to 20 minutes and she became emotionally upset. Finally she said she was going to quit appellant because he would not "straighten up," because she was pregnant, and because she was afraid that her fiance would find out about their relationship. She asked appellant to leave and he did so immediately, going to a nearby corner to catch a cab. Unable to find one, he returned and knocked on his sister's door. Hearing no answer, he went back downstairs and encountered the police as he was leaving and they were entering the building.
C. The Sufficiency of the Evidence and of the Corroboration of Complainant's Testimony.
Appellant argues both that the evidence was insufficient to warrant submission of the case to the jury, and that there was lacking the corroboration of her testimony required by law.
There are weak points in complainant's testimony; for example, the fact that no one heard her screaming for help outside her apartment immediately after the alleged assault. But her testimony, in combination with the other evidence, was sufficient to support a conviction for assault with intent to commit rape. Two policemen testified that the complainant had bruises, which she showed them, when they arrived on the scene, and one indicated that she was shaking. They also testified that appellant was coming up the stairs from the basement of the apartment house when they arrived, and one officer indicated that appellant turned around and started back down the stairs when he saw the officer. This conflicted with appellant's testimony that he was at the door and about to leave the building when the police arrived.
We turn to the related but distinct issue of whether the evidence shows requisite corroboration of complainant's testimony. It is the law of this jurisdiction, settled by a long line of cases, that corroboration of the complainant's testimony is necessary for each element of a sex offense.
In our most recent comment, earlier this year, we noted that corroboration was required "for the cogent reason that the risk of unjust conviction is high. * * * Typically the innocent, as well as the guilty, have only their own testimony on which to rely."
We conclude that the dress with the torn shoulder strap offers enough independent corroboration of complainant's account to avoid the requirement that a verdict be directed for the accused.
II. LACK OF INSTRUCTIONS ON NEED FOR CORROBORATION ON THE ELEMENTS OF THE OFFENSE.
The corroboration doctrines in this jurisdiction require not only the existence of evidence sufficient to avoid a directed verdict, but also that the case be sent to the jury with instructions making clear that a guilty verdict may not be based solely on complainant's testimony, even assuming that her account and demeanor appear convincing. The jury must also be told that corroboration of the complainant's testimony is essential, and that it is their responsibility as jurors to determine whether evidence which they credit establishes such corroboration. Borum v. United States, 133 U.S.App.D.C. 147, 151-153, 409 F.2d 433, 437-439 (1967), cert. denied, 395 U.S. 916, 89 S.Ct. 1765, 23 L.Ed.2d 230 (1969).
The rule is thus similar to that in perjury cases. In Weiler v. United States, 323 U.S. 606, 65 S.Ct. 548, 89 L.Ed. 495 (1945), the Supreme Court held that in perjury cases the judge must instruct the jury on the need for finding corroboration of the witness.
In this case the instructions are lacking in any hint to the jury, much less "proper and adequate guidance," concerning the need for the jury to ascertain, and to credit, independent corroborative evidence over and above any belief in the complainant's testimony based on her courtroom demeanor.
The Government in effect concedes the mistake, but urges that the failure to provide an instruction on corroboration was not reversible error because no request was made for such an instruction. In cases involving the issue of corroboration of identity this court has held that the existence of corroborative evidence avoids reversal when no corroboration instruction has been requested. Franklin v. United States, 117 U.S.App. D.C. 331, 330 F.2d 205 (1963); United States v. Dews, 135 U.S.App.D.C. 185, 417 F.2d 753 (April 1, 1969). However a different result obtains when the question is one of corroboration of the elements of the crime. The two issues differ markedly in importance.
Ordinarily in criminal cases an instruction on corroboration relates to what is purely an evidentiary matter, as in the familiar instruction that the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice is to be viewed with suspicion. In this field of sex offenses, the requirement of corroboration is fairly taken as an essential ingredient of the case, widely understood by judges and lawyers,
Since the independent corroboration evidence is minimal rather than strong, we conclude that the plain error in failing to instruct the jury on its responsibility to determine whether there was corroborative evidence, which it credited, of all the elements of this sex offense, is prejudicial, and requires reversal.
III. INSTRUCTION ON INTENT TO USE FORCE
Apart from his attack on the sufficiency of the evidence of intent, appellant also contends that the instructions used but failed to define the term "specific intent," and were deficient in their definition of the intent necessary for conviction for assault with intent to commit rape.
In words almost identical with Form 102 in what is commonly called the "Red Book" of Criminal Jury Instructions, issued in a red binder by the Junior Bar Section of the District of Columbia Bar Association, the trial judge gave the following charge on the elements of the crime:
Appellant contends that a charge using the term "specific intent" is fatally defective if it does not give the jury the conventional guidance both on the definition of that term,
We think the phrase "specific intent to have sexual intercourse" was sufficiently meaningful to the jury to avoid condemnation as plain error. Obviously the term without the word "specific" is clear enough. And the addition of "specific" connotes a requirement of definiteness of intention which is the essence of the matter. If a retrial is held, court and counsel can doubtless implement or supplement this instruction.
A more important aspect in which the instruction would warrant clarification on retrial relates to the extent of intended force necessary for conviction. It is elementary that unless there is an element of intended force, an assault with intent to have sexual intercourse is not an assault with intent to commit rape. Baber v. United States, 116 U.S.App.D.C. 358, 324 F.2d 390 (1963) (conviction reversed though defendant tore skirt of complainant).
In a rape case the prosecution must establish the fact of sexual intercourse (that is, penetration of the female sexual organ by the sexual organ of the male) forcibly and against the will of the complainant.
A man who handles a lady vigorously and with some force (against her will) is plainly guilty of an assault — of an indecent assault. But he does not have an intent to commit rape if his actions are taken in the hope or expectation of thereby awakening desire, and with the further intention of desisting if his approach does not arouse desire or lead to acquiescence but rather encounters continued resistance.
When a defendant intends to use the kind of "force" that is enough in his mind to test the existence or persistence of complainant's true intentions, but not enough to achieve sexual intercourse if she "really" rejects him, there is no intent to commit rape. However, it might be concluded by the jury that such an intent satisfies the language of the form instruction on assault with intent to commit rape (supra) — that he had "the purpose to carry this intent [intercourse] into effect by force and against the will of the complainant" — because he did have the intent of intercourse and the purpose to use force — at first — to carry into effect the ultimate intent of intercourse.
For accurate definition of the crime the form instruction used in the Red Book should be supplemented with the additional language, used in Wharton's text
Rulings on the issue under discussion appear in opinions of the state courts. They make it clear that the use of force or intent to use force is not enough for assault with intent to rape, if there is no intent to use force at the time of sexual intercourse. For example, Dannelley v. State, 80 Fla. 773, 87 So. 44 (1920), involved the use of force. The defendant grabbed the girl and wouldn't let her leave the car — and this on more than one occasion. Yet the court said at 46 of 87 So.:
The Supreme Court of Illinois, in People v. Cieslak, 319 Ill. 221, 224, 149 N.E. 815, 816 (1925) stated that in a prosecution for assault with intent to rape,
The theme is recurrent. The Criminal Court of Appeals of Oklahoma has used almost the same words and added that the appellant must have intended sexual intercourse with the complainant "notwithstanding any resistance she might make." Cape v. State, 61 Okl.Cr. 173, 66 P.2d 959, 960 (1937) (syllabus by the court). And as already noted the same point is made in Wharton's text (text accompanying note 12).
There is more than an academic possibility that a man who would be dissuaded by a woman's genuine, continuing resistance desires to test the genuineness and persistence of her initial resistance by some initial force, by some "violent familiarity," as the Illinois court put it. The issue may be of particular significance when the parties are acquaintances or when the circumstances and surroundings otherwise suggest to him a reasonable chance of obtaining her ultimate consent.
Appellant claims he and the complainant had previously engaged in "smooching" and that she had once consented to an assignation with him in a tourist home, though she later changed her mind. The jury was entitled not to believe this portion of appellant's testimony. But he was equally entitled to an instruction that would focus the issue for the jury in its appraisal of appellant's defense.
For purposes of guidance at retrial, if held, we have appended a proposed instruction which adds appropriate language to the outstanding "Red Book" form.
Assault is a lesser included offense under assault with intent to commit rape. The trial judge correctly instructed the jury on the elements of assault. The evidence is of course sufficient to sustain a conviction and judgment of assault. We think it in the interest of justice to avoid an automatic requirement of new trial because of the error in the charge on the greater offense.
Reversed and remanded.
The essential elements of the offense of assault with intent to commit rape, each of which the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, are:
In both Franklin and Dews the corroboration found by the court appears to have been strong. In Dews the appellant did not even allege the absence or weakness of corroborative evidence; he alleged merely the failure to instruct on the point. In Franklin the appellants, whose failure-to-instruct claims were rejected, had been identified by an eye witness.
Generally, in cases of attempt or assault with intent to commit a substantive crime, the required specific intent is simply "an intent to commit a specific crime," 1 Wharton's Criminal Law § 73 (12th ed. 1967). As for the specific intent in assault with intent to commit rape, "the man's purpose must be to use force, should it be necessary, to overcome the woman's will." 1 Bishop's Criminal Law § 731.5 (9th ed. 1923). Few if any cases of attempted rape will turn not only on intent to do the act, but also on questions of law, and existence of intent to break the law.
Bishop does state: "A series of highly indecent assaults with intent merely of obtaining the consent of the prosecutrix is not sufficient." 2 J. Bishop, A Treatise on Criminal Law § 1136a (1923). He cites Dannelley v. State, supra.