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156777 - People v Joshua Lee Thorpe

The People of the State of Michigan,


Jonathan Blair





(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)



(Allegan – Bakker, M.)


Joshua Lee Thorpe,


Katherine Marcuz





In 2012, defendant’s then 8-year-old stepdaughter reported that he had sexually assaulted her on three separate occasions at his home. He was charged with three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. During trial, the prosecutor called an expert in the field of child sexual abuse and disclosure to opine about the broad range of behaviors exhibited by child abuse victims. After admitting on cross-examination that children can lie and manipulate, the expert testified on redirect examination (over defense counsel’s objections) about the low rate of false reports of sexual abuse by children. The jury convicted defendant as charged. The Court of Appeals affirmed in an unpublished decision, and subsequently denied defendant’s motion for reconsideration. The Supreme Court has directed oral argument on defendant’s application for leave to appeal to address: (1) whether the trial court abused its discretion by allowing expert testimony on redirect about the rate of false reports of sexual abuse by children, see People v Peterson, 450 Mich 349 (1995), in order to rebut testimony elicited on cross-examination that children can lie and manipulate; and, if so, (2) whether the error was harmless. This case will be heard at the same session as People v Brandon James Harbison (No. 157404).