01/22/2019
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By Erin Smith

On Friday, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled John Owen Jacobs, 47,  is due a new trial after being convicted in Bladen County in 2015 of first-degree sex offense with a child. 

According to the NC Supreme Court ruling, the trial court judge was incorrect in blocking potentially exculpatory medical evidence that the victim had two sexually transmitted diseases while Jacobs’ attorney attempted to offer evidence that he had no such diseases and the defense attorney’s request was denied. 

According to the NC Supreme Court record, during the original trial, the victim testified that Jacobs had sex with her over a period of years beginning in 2011 when she was 8 or 9 years old. The victim also testified in the original trial he had sexual relations with her as often as two times per week. On May 6, 2013, the victim was taken to the hospital where she was tested and subsequently diagnosed with two sexually transmitted diseases —Trichomonas and Herpes simplex infections. 

During the original trial, when Jacobs’ attorney attempted to present a medical report on Jacobs’ behalf regarding the sexually transmitted diseases, the judge ruled such evidence was not admissible due to a potential violation of the Rape Shield law. According to the NC Supreme Court record, the medical record and an expert witness who was prepared to testify, would have offered evidence Jacobs did not have the diseases with which the victim was diagnosed.

On July 28, 2015, the original trial court returned a verdict of guilty of first-degree sex offense with a child. 

On Friday, NC Supreme Court Judge Robert N. Hunter Jr. wrote, “If a defendant can offer relevant and exculpatory medical evidence that “does not necessarily speak to the past sexual behavior of the victim, such evidence should be admissible regardless of whether it fits within” a Rule 412 exception.”

The NC Supreme Court indicated the case is to be remanded for a new trial. 

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