Washington v. Crossguns (Majority and Dissent)Annotate this Case
In August 2016, R.G.M. disclosed to her mother that her father, Patrick Crossguns Sr., had sexually abused her. R.G.M. said he had been abusing her for over a year, beginning when she was 12 years old. Crossguns was charged with one count of second degree rape of a child and one count of second degree child molestation. Before trial, the State sought to admit evidence of uncharged sexual abuse of R.G.M. by Crossguns from July 2015 to August 2016. Crossguns opposed admission of the evidence, arguing that it was improper propensity evidence. The trial court concluded the probative value outweighed any risk of unfair prejudice and ruled the evidence was admissible. The court also concluded the evidence was admissible to prove the aggravators but stated “the main factor” for admitting the evidence was to prove Crossguns’s “lustful disposition toward [R.G.M.]” At issue before the Washington Supreme Court in this case was the term "lustful disposition," and whether the prosecutor’s statements in closing, asking the jury to decide if the witnesses were telling the truth, constituted misconduct that absent an objection, was so prejudicial that reversal was warranted. The Supreme Court concluded “lustful disposition” was archaic, reinforced outdated rape myths and misconceptions of sexual violence, and was not a proper purpose for admitting evidence. Rejection of the label “lustful disposition” did not modify the established doctrine of allowing “[e]vidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts” to be admitted as “proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident” pursuant to ER 404(b). In this case, the Supreme Court concluded evidence of Crossguns’s uncharged acts of sexual assault was properly admitted for permissible ER 404(b) purposes. Therefore, the trial court’s reference to lustful disposition in its decision admitting the evidence was harmless. Further, the Court concluded the prosecutor’s statements constituted misconduct, but the prejudice could have been corrected by an instruction. The Court of Appeals was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and remanded to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings.