State v. Towe, 366 N.C. 56, 732 S.E.2d 564 (Jun. 14, 2012)

The court modified and affirmed State v. Towe, 210 N.C. App. 430 (Mar. 15, 2011) (plain error to allow the State’s medical expert to testify that the child victim was sexually abused when no physical findings supported this conclusion). The court agreed that the expert’s testimony was improper but held that the court of appeals mischaracterized the plain error test. The court of appeals applied a “highly plausible that the jury could have reached a different result” standard. The correct standard, however, is whether a fundamental error occurred that “had a probable impact on the jury’s finding that the defendant was guilty.” Applying that standard, the court found it satisfied.