The admissibility and use of tendency, coincidence and relationship evidence in child sexual assault prosecutions in a selection of foreign jurisdictions

Associate Professor David Hamer

Faculty of Law, University of Sydney

March 2016

ISBN 978-1-925289-46-6

Executive Summary

This report surveys the legal treatment of tendency, coincidence and relationship evidence applicable in sexual assault prosecutions in a selection of foreign jurisdictions, namely England/Wales, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. This report is concerned with the situation where the prosecution seeks to rely upon evidence that the defendant committed other sexual misconduct not covered by the current charges in order to prove that the defendant committed the charged sexual offences against the complainant. There are a range of possible scenarios:

  • the other allegations may involve misconduct against other alleged victims;

  • the other allegations may be of other misconduct against the complainant (often termed ‘relationship evidence’);

  • the other alleged misconduct may have been the subject of previous proceedings;

  • such previous proceedings may have ended in conviction or acquittal;

  • the other alleged misconduct may be the subject of other current charges – raising issues of joinder of counts as well as cross-admissibility.