Fischer and a girl went back
to his dorm room and fooled around a bit. They then separated. A few
hours later, they met again in his dorm room and fooled around some more.
There was conflicting
testimony, but the girl claimed that the second encounter was
Fischer argued that based on
the first encounter, he believed that the second encounter was
consensual, even though the girl said 'no' to the second encounter.
The Trial Court convicted
Fischer of rape. He appealed.
Fischer argued that relying
on his previous encounter, and in light of his limited experience, his
belief that he had the victim's consent was reasonable.
Fischer argued that once he
realized that she was serious, he stopped the encounter.
Basically, Fischer was
arguing that he had made a mistake of fact. He argued that if the jury found that he reasonably, though
mistakenly, believed that he had consent, he should be found innocent.
In his appeal, Fischer
argued that he had ineffective counsel because his lawyer did not
request a jury instruction about mistake of fact.
The Appellate Court upheld the
The Appellate Court looked
to the prior case of Commonwealth v. Williams (439 A.2d 765 (1982)), which decided that mistake
of fact with regards to the victim's consent is not a defense.
Therefore, via stare decisis, the
"If the element of the
defendant's belief as to the victim's state of mind is to be established
as a defense to the crime of rape then it should be done by the
Legislature. We refuse to create such a defense."
Basically, this case said that
(in Pennsylvania anyway), mistake of fact about whether the victim consented is not a valid defense.
Other jurisdictions have
allowed a mistake of fact defense,
but only when the defendant's error is "honest and reasonable."