The Third Department, reversing defendant’s conviction of predatory sexual assault against a child, criminal sexual act in the first degree and endangering the welfare of a child, determined defendant should have been allowed to present evidence of the child-victim’s reputation for untruthfulness. The court noted the two-pronged analysis for such character evidence: (1) the reliability of the evidence (a question of law); and (2) the credibility of the evidence (a question of fact):
“Once the party seeking admission of reputation evidence has laid the proper foundation, it is for the jury to evaluate the credibility of the character witnesses who testify, and to decide how much weight to give the views reported in their testimony. While a reasonable assurance of reliability is necessary for a proper foundation, such reasonable assurance exists where the testifying witnesses report the views of a sufficient number of people, and those views are based on sufficient experience with the person whose character is in question. Reputation evidence may be reliable . . ., but still questionable from a credibility standpoint. This possibility, however, is not a proper basis for exclusion of reputation evidence. Reliability — whether a character witness has established a proper basis for knowing a key opposing witness’ general reputation for truth and veracity — is a question of law for the court. By contrast, the credibility of such character witness — whether that witness is worthy or unworthy of belief or is motivated by bias — is a factual question for the jury. We caution that a trial court should not use reliability as a ground for excluding evidence it believes is not credible” … .
… [D]efendant proffered a proposed witness who was prepared to testify that she had known the victim since birth, that they were members of the same large extended family and that many members of the extended family knew the victim. Further, the proposed witness was prepared to testify that she was aware of the victim’s bad reputation for truthfulness among the extended family. …
County Court erred when it determined that the proposed testimony failed to establish a proper foundation for admission of testimony regarding the victim’s bad reputation for truthfulness; in fact, the offer of proof contained each element required by People v Fernandez (17 NY3d at 76-77). People v Youngs, 2019 NY Slip Op 06540, Third Dept 9-12-19