FRANKFORT —A Calloway County case in which a man was convicted on charges of rape and sodomy was part of the docket of the Kentucky Supreme Court late last week.
In late 2017, a jury found Ray William Powers of Murray guilty during his trial in Calloway Circuit Court. Calloway Circuit Judge James T. Jameson then subsequently upheld the suggested sentence of that jury of 17 years in prison.
On Thursday, attorney Stephen Nathan Goens, assistant public advocate for the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy’s Frankfort office, argued that the alleged sexual activity of the accuser in the case should have been allowed to be used as evidence for the defense. This is not allowed under Kentucky Rule of Evidence 412, which is commonly referred to as the Rape Shield Law in Kentucky.
“From the outset, her credibility was, at best, questionable,” Goens argued Thursday. “This was purely a he-said, she-said case, and Mr. Powers never denied that a sexual encounter took place.”
A brief that Goens filed says that the accuser said that Powers drugged, raped and sodomized her on Sept. 21, 2016. The brief said that Powers has continually argued that the encounter was consensual. From there, court records report that the accuser then went to her boyfriend’s residence where she then engaged in sexual intercourse with him.
‘She claimed she regained consciousness, recognized what was happening and quickly got herself together,” Goens said Thursday. “Three days later, she told her boyfriend about the rape.”
Court records show that the accuser eventually went to a nurse practitioner who then referred her to Trigg County Hospital in Cadiz. Goens’ brief says that no evidence of a sexual assault was detected.
“She didn’t want her boyfriend to know she was with Mr. Powers,” Goens said Thursday, adding that it was his opinion that the accuser lied about the encounter to her boyfriend.
Kentucky Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Aspen Roberts, however, said this is exactly why KRE 412 was designed.
“This absolutely consisted of the idea of, ‘She made this up to protect her relationship with her boyfriend.’ No, this was a ruse to get this information in, which is precisely what the court wants to avoid,” Roberts said in her response. “The jury had every bit of relevant information it needed to make its decision in this case. They had an account of what happened.”
Roberts referred to a video of the alleged encounter that, in his brief, Goens also mentioned. Goens’ brief said that video was made by Powers.
“You can clearly see that she didn’t have the ability to consent,” Roberts said.
“That she may have acted in a particular way had nothing to do with it. (Under KRE 412), the Commonwealth excludes that evidence, evidence that he is claiming, and that has not changed even by the fact that she was intimate with her boyfriend afterward.”
This case was heard by the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 2019 with a three-judge panel issuing a 3-0 decision upholding the verdict, as well as Jameson’s handling of the case; a spokesperson for the Supreme Court said Friday that the justices decided to look at the case through what is known as a discretionary review because they believed there was enough of a need to take a closer look at the case.
No decision has been made in this case. The Supreme Court spokesperson said that a ruling of the justices will probably be handed down within a month to three months.
Powers was convicted on charges of rape in the first degree and sodomy in the first degree and is serving his sentence within the Kentucky Department of Corrections system. DOC records show that Powers would be eligible for parole in 2031.