Requisites For Sweetheart Theory As A Defense In Rape

Appellant Jose Dioquino was charged with eight counts of rape allegedly committed against ABC, a minor. Upon arraignment, appellant enter...

Appellant Jose Dioquino was charged with eight counts of rape allegedly committed against ABC, a minor. Upon arraignment, appellant entered a plea of not guilty to all the charges as stated in the informations. Trial ensued.

ABC, the victim, testified that she was raped on several occasions by the accused. According to her, the appellant hit her in the abdomen before the appellant raped her. This testimony of the victim was corroborated by the medical findings conducted by the Municipal Health Officer of Matnog, Sorsogon.

On the other hand, appellant presented the sweetheart defense. Claiming to be ABC’s boyfriend, appellant took the witness stand and asserted that the alleged rapes complained against him were, in reality, the mutual acts of young lovers. Having made love to said minor two months after she became his girlfriend, appellant claimed that he engaged in a string of consensual sexual encounters with ABC, with whom he eloped at her suggestion. Also, presented a handwritten document whereby ABC acknowledged the voluntariness of her elopement with appellant.

The RTC found appellant guilty of seven counts of rape and sentenced him to reclusion perpetua for each count. The RTC further ordered appellant to indemnify ABC in the amount of P50,000 as civil indemnity and P50,000 as moral damages and to pay the costs. The RTC did not give any credence to appellant’s sweetheart defense for it was admittedly not supported by any evidence of their relationship. Moreover, the existence of force and intimidation was proven by the prosecution for each of the times appellant had carnal knowledge of ABC.

On appeal, the CA affirmed appellant’s conviction for seven counts of rape but modified the monetary damages awarded. The CA agreed with the RTC that ABC’s testimony was candid, straightforward, and credible. In trying to impute ill motive on ABC’s testimony, appellant claimed that ABC’s mother concocted the rape charges because she disapproved of their relationship. However, this self-serving assertion was easily debunked by his own witness who testified that he helped pacify appellant who threw an uncontrollable fit because ABC’s parents were forcing him to marry their daughter. The CA added that appellant failed to prove that they were really lovers. ABC’s supposed acknowledgment of elopement contained in a handwritten document made by appellant’s own uncle and her affirmative answer to the police investigator’s question whether she went with appellant voluntarily cannot be taken as evidence of existing relationship between ABC and appellant. The CA held that the extra-judicial admissions, made in the absence of ABC’s parents and in the presence of appellant’s relatives and police, if given any evidentiary value at all, merely prove that she went with appellant voluntarily but does not disprove the rape.

Is the appellant's invocation of the “sweetheart theory” persuasive?

Appellant's invocation of the “sweetheart theory” is NOT persuasive. Appellant’s bare invocation of the sweetheart theory cannot stand. To be credible, the sweetheart theory must be corroborated by documentary, testimonial, or other evidence. Usually, these are letters, notes, photos, mementos, or credible testimonies of those who know the lovers. Appellant’s defense admittedly lacks these pieces of evidence. In adopting the sweetheart theory as a defense, however, he necessarily admitted carnal knowledge of ABC, the first element of rape. This admission makes the sweetheart theory more difficult to defend, for it is not only an affirmative defense that needs convincing proof, but also after the prosecution has successfully established a prima facie case, the burden of evidence is shifted to the accused, who has to adduce evidence that the intercourse was consensual. No such evidence was presented to show that the several episodes of sexual intercourse were consensual. The medical examination done on ABC debunks any claim of appellant that he did not force himself upon ABC.

Appellant also cannot benefit from the so-called acknowledgment executed by ABC that she voluntarily went with him considering the circumstances surrounding its execution. The RTC and CA correctly considered that the acknowledgment was written by the Barangay Captain who happened to be appellant's uncle and the acknowledgment was made without the participation of ABC and her parents. In any event, as observed by the CA, even if the Court gives evidentiary weight to the document, such does not disprove rape.

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Plaintiff-Appellee, vs. JOEL DIOQUINO Y GARBIN, Accused-Appellant.
The author takes no responsibility for the validity, correctness and result of this work. The information provided is not a legal advice and it should not be used  as a substitute for a competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer. See the disclaimer

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