State v. Barnett, 223 N.C. App. 450 (Nov. 20, 2012)

In a second-degree rape case, the trial court properly admitted 404(b) evidence of the defendant’s prior sexual conduct with the victim to show common scheme. The conduct leading to the charges occurred in 1985 when the victim was sixteen years old. After ingesting alcohol and other substances, the victim awoke to find the defendant, her uncle, having sex with her. At trial the victim testified that in 1977, the defendant touched her breasts several times; in 1978, he touched her breasts, put her hand on his penis, and made her rub his penis up and down; and in 1980 he twice masturbated in front of her. The court found the prior acts sufficient similar to the rape at issue, noting that they show “a progression from inappropriate touching in 1977 to sexual intercourse in 1985.” Also, the court noted, all of the incidents occurred where the defendant was living at the time. The incidents were not too remote. Although there was a five year gap between the last act and the rape, the defendant did not have access to the victim for three years. The court also found that the evidence was admissible under Rule 403.