from the Eighth Judicial District Court for the Parish of
Winn, Louisiana Trial Court No. 41, 631 Honorable Jacque
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT Counsel for Appellant By: Sherry
RICHARD C. NEVILS Counsel for Appellee District Attorney
STEVEN D. CREWS COLE B. SMITH Assistant District Attorneys.
PITMAN, GARRETT, and COX, JJ.
defendant, Ulrich "Ric" Adam Steines
("Steines"), was convicted after a bench trial of
one count of pornography involving juveniles, in violation of
La. R.S. 14:81.1, and two counts of aggravated incest, in
violation of La. R.S. 14:78.1. On count one, Steines was
sentenced to 10 years at hard labor, without the benefit of
probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. On each of
counts two and three, Steines was sentenced to 45 years at
hard labor, 25 years to be served without the benefit of
probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. All sentences
were ordered to be served consecutively. Steines filed
motions for post-verdict judgment of acquittal and for a new
trial, which were both denied. A motion to reconsider the
sentence was timely filed, but withdrawn by defense counsel.
Steines now appeals. For the following reasons, we affirm the
convictions, vacate the sentences, and remand for further
summer of 2008, S.S. was 10 years old and was living with her
grandfather (Steines), Steines's wife, and Steines's
son, A.S. A.S. was 14 years old at the time and Steines was
53 years old. S.S. had been living with Steines at the
request of her mother Odessa (Steines's daughter) since
she was 10 months old and S.S. called Steines dad. Steines
traveled with his employment and stayed several weeks of the
month at the Economy Inn in Winnfield, Louisiana. Receipts
showing his stays at the motel from June to mid-October 2008
were introduced into evidence during the trial. It is
undisputed that S.S. stayed with Steines for several days at
a time when he was at the motel.
either late August or early September 2008, S.S. told a
former wife of Steines that A.S. had touched her
inappropriately on her breast and had kissed her. A report
was made to the Department of Children and Family Services
and an investigation followed. On September 15, 2008, and on
two other occasions, Barrett McIntosh with DCFS, interviewed
Steines. McIntosh testified at trial that the family
underwent group and family counseling and that Steines's
wife reported marital problems due to Steines's use of
pornography. While the family's problems came to light
around the allegations of A.S.'s conduct, the focus soon
shifted to Steines.
his first interview with McIntosh, Steines volunteered that
he had showed S.S. how to put a condom on a banana because
she was maturing and would soon be having sexual relations.
Steines said he used the banana as a demonstration tool for
S.S.'s education. During a second interview on October
16, 2008, McIntosh advised Steines that S.S. was going to be
referred for sexual abuse testing. McIntosh testified at
trial that Steines's tone changed and he became
defensive, telling McIntosh that the test would be unreliable
because S.S. used tampons instead of pads and had been
"playing with herself." By the third conversation
on October 18, 2008, McIntosh had concerns Steines was
grooming S.S. for further sexual behavior and that Steines
was attempting to manipulate the DCFS investigation.
occasions, October 16, 2008 and November 24, 2008, S.S. was
interviewed by Jennifer Graves of the Children's Advocacy
Center. Transcripts of both interviews were admitted into
evidence at trial with no objection. In the first interview,
S.S. described the incident in the motel with the condom and
the banana. She stated that Steines told her that he needed
to show her that because she was growing up. When asked if
Steines had ever taken any pictures of her without her
clothes on, S.S. replied, "I think one time, I'm not
second interview with Ms. Graves, S.S. stated she had
"lied about a few things" in her previous
conversation with Ms. Graves because she was scared. S.S.
then stated, "I did have another person touch me and
take pictures of me and video tape me and stuff like
that." S.S. then stated that the person was "Ric
Steines, who I now know don't live here anymore."
Shortly after the allegations were made and the investigation
began, Steines returned to his native Canada. The plane
ticket was introduced into evidence at trial.
also told Ms. Graves that Steines touched her "lower
private area" and "had stuck stuff at" her.
This happened more than once at the motel and before at the
house. The first time it occurred, S.S. was sleeping in
Steines's bed at the motel and Steines "stuck his
fingers" up S.S.'s vagina. S.S. told Ms. Graves that
she pushed Steines away. S.S. also advised that "we went
one more time and daddy forced me to put my fingers up myself
and got butt naked and he videotaped me." When asked to
explain, S.S. said, "I was at the motel one day and I
was just lying in bed watching TV and he forced me to get up,
take off all my clothes and he took off all his. And he
videotaped me it really hurt." S.S. could not recall
what the camera looked like. S.S. also stated that Steines
grabbed her hand and made her touch his "lower
part" and showed her a video of grown-ups having sex.
S.S. told Ms. Graves that she had a friend who had
experienced similar things with her stepfather. S.S. stated
that hearing about her friend's experience had given S.S.
the confidence to talk about it.
asked, specifically, when the incidents took place, during
the summer or during the school year, S.S. replied that she
did not remember "any of the times, " just what
happened. S.S. also stated that Steines told her not to tell
or he would do something, but she could not recall what he
said he would do.
arrest warrant was secured for Steines, but he had returned
to Canada. It was not until 2014 that Steines was extradited
to Winn Parish to face these charges. Officer Kelly Fannin of
the Winn Parish Sheriff's Office testified that he
arrested Steines on August 1, 2014.
testified that she lived in Caldwell Parish in the summer and
fall of 2008 and that she would stay with Steines at the
Economy Inn in Winnfield, Winn Parish, LA while he was
working. S.S. stated that the incidents of abuse occurred at
the motel. At trial, S.S. recounted the banana and condom
incident and testified that Steines touched her vagina. She
stated that Steines told her he would give her twenty dollars
if she would get fully undressed. S.S. testified that
"he used a camera to either record me or take pictures,
I'm not really sure, um, of me doing stuff to myself. . .
. he was naked at the time." S.S. confirmed that Steines
told her to touch herself for the recording and that he told
her she would likely be having sex by the time she was 12
years old. S.S. stated that the touching happened numerous
times and that Steines showed her pornography on his
computer. When asked why she was testifying, S.S. stated,
"I need justice and I need closure in my life. It's
been really hard since it, um, it's - it's really
hard to just be in a room with another, uh man, and it's
really hard just to - to just have those memories in my head
without anything being done."
cross-examination, S.S. admitted that she could not get into
the mind of "her ten-year old self" and that eight
years can affect one's memory. S.S. agreed that the
events happened "late summer."
David Williams is an expert in psychology. DCFS referred the
Steines family to him in order to evaluate A.S. Dr. Williams
testified regarding group and family therapy sessions. Dr.
Williams testified that he acted to have A.S. and S.S.
removed from the family unit based on his conclusion
regarding the inappropriate grooming behavior (the banana and
condom incident) with a 10-year-old child by hand delivering
a letter to DCFS. Dr. Williams stated he was concerned the
child was being "softened up" for more sexual
behavior. Dr. Williams testified that he wrote a letter,
which he personally walked over to child protective services,
expressing his concerns about the children in this family.
Dr. Williams stated that "the kids needed to be out of
there, [S.S.] especially." His opinion and actions were
based on his experience as a counseling psychologist working
with sexual offenders and victims.
John Simoneaux, an expert in psychology, testified at trial
that he evaluated S.S. on January 29, 2009. He was referred
by DCFS to "validate sexual enticement and lack of
supervision relative to her grandfather." Dr. Simoneaux
reviewed the two statements S.S. gave to Ms. Graves and
personally interviewed S.S. Dr. Simoneaux testified that it
was normal for young victims to make additional revelations
over time rather than all at once. He also explained that it
was not unusual to see differing statements from a child
victim. Defense counsel objected, arguing that the answer
would be an impermissible opinion on the credibility of S.S.
and the validity of her claim under State v. Foret,
infra. The trial court allowed Dr. Simoneaux to testify
as to the common behaviors of victims in general, but stated,
"I'm gonna keep an eyed - eye on the rest. Let, uh,
I believe [defense counsel] is correct when it gets down to
the - is she telling the truth or not, that's not [Dr.
Simoneaux's] job. . . . That's my job." Later in
his testimony, Dr. Simoneaux was asked if he made a
recommendation on what to do following his evaluations.
Again, defense counsel objected arguing the question called
for an opinion on the validity of S.S.'s claim. The trial
court agreed and the district attorney withdrew the question.
state rested and Steines testified on his own behalf. Steines
testified that he moved to Louisiana from Canada to support
his family. He stated that he agreed to raise S.S. because
his daughter, S.S.'s mother, was having problems. Steines
denied any inappropriate conduct with S.S. He explained the
banana and condom incident by stating that is how safe sex is
taught in Canadian schools. He testified he was
"scared" because S.S. and her friends were talking
about boys so he decided to educate her. Steines denied that
he viewed pornography.
trial judge found Steines guilty as charged, specifically
stating that he found S.S. to be credible and Steines to be
completely lacking in ...