Rape shield statutes were enacted in order to protect the rape victim from embarrassment and humiliation at the trial of the accused by restricting the admission of sexual conduct evidence. While these statutes, for the most part, succeed in protecting the victim and encouraging her to report the rape, they can have the effect of limiting the accused's ability to defend himself. Part II of this article discusses the advent of rape shield statutes in the United States. Part III examines case law construing the statutes with regard to prior sexual conduct as evidence of a motive to fabricate. Finally, Part IV proposes to amend the Federal Rule to include an exception similar to that of the Maryland Rape Shield Statute, which permits the admission of evidence that supports a claim that the victim has an ulterior motive in accusing the defendant.


1998 John M. Manos Writing Competition on Evidence