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N.J. court: Rape defendant can cite sexual history with accuser

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(CNN) -- New Jersey's highest court ruled Wednesday that defendants in sexual assault cases have a constitutional right to present details of any sexual history between them and their accuser.

The decision slightly weakens New Jersey's tough rape shield law, which prohibited any mention of the accuser's sexual past in court.

The case involves a married police officer who was sent to jail after he was convicted of having non-consensual sex with a woman who worked at the local prosecutor's office. The jury was not allowed to hear witness testimony that the woman had been making advances toward him and was angry that she had been rebuffed.

The defendant, Anderson Garron, was granted a new trial.

The state's top prosecutor expressed concern about the ruling, quickly adding that a complete examination of its implications was being conducted by his office.

"We are studying this decision carefully as we are very concerned that the protection of rape victims is not eroded," said New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey in a statement released following the ruling. "There are few crimes more heinous, vile and emotionally debilitating than rape. Rape victims deserve a broad degree of protection both during the investigative process and at trial.

"We will weigh whether to appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court," Harvey said.

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