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State v. Doucet

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

December 27, 2017



          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA Paul D. Connick, Jr. Terry M. Boudreaux Thomas J. Butler Seth Shute Rachel! Africk.


          Panel composed of Judges Susan M. Chehardy, Fredericka Homberg Wicker, and Hans J. Liljeberg


         Defendant, T.W.D.,[1] appeals his conviction for aggravated rape of a juvenile under the age of thirteen. For the following reasons, we affirm defendant's underlying conviction and sentence of life imprisonment, without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence, and remand the matter for correction of the hard labor commitment and the Uniform Commitment Order.

         Procedural History

         On January 14, 2016, a Jefferson Parish Grand Jury indicted defendant, T.W.D., with aggravated rape of a known juvenile wherein the victim was under the age of thirteen, in violation of La. R.S. 14:42. On November 29, 2016, the three-day trial commenced before a twelve-person jury, which unanimously found defendant guilty as charged. On December 5, 2016, after defendant's post-trial motions were denied and defendant waived sentencing delays, the trial judge sentenced him to life imprisonment without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Defendant filed a timely motion for appeal that was granted.


         At trial, S.D., the victim-herein, testified that she was born on June 25, 2003, she was currently thirteen years old, and she was a resident of Carriere, Mississippi. She further testified that defendant was her father's brother.

         At trial, S.D. described the initial incident that occurred when she was eight years old. At the time, defendant and his longtime girlfriend, T.P., were visiting the victim and her family at their home in Carriere, Mississippi. The victim was watching television in her room when defendant walked in and began talking with her. S.D. remembered that, all of a sudden, defendant told her to take off her pants. Although S.D. told him, "No," he forced her pants off. She tried to cover herself but defendant uncovered her, unzipped his pants, and took out his "crotch." S.D. wanted to call for help but defendant covered her mouth, slapped her, and told her to "shut up." Defendant then turned her around and pinned her against the bed then inserted his "crotch" into her "crotch."[2] The victim testified that, "[t]hen like it was in there, he didn't move at all." She said that it was painful. He eventually took his "crotch" out and he said, "Tell anyone what happened and I will beat you up." Afterward, defendant walked back to the living room.

         The victim was too scared to tell anybody what had happened because she thought that defendant would beat her up. She further stated that defendant abused her other times in that house but she did not remember the details like she did the first time it happened.

         The victim recounted another incident that happened when she was eight years old and visiting her grandparents in Louisiana. She and her brother were sleeping in the living room of that house. She was on the floor and her brother was on the couch. Early one morning, at approximately 6:00 a.m., while she and her brother were sleeping, defendant came into the living room and shook her to wake her up. The victim did not wake up so defendant picked her up. When she became aware that defendant was lifting her, she struggled to get out of his grasp because she knew that he was going to abuse her.

         That morning, defendant carried S.D. into a shed in the backyard and pinned her over a barrel in the shed. Defendant then took off her pants, unzipped his pants, and inserted his "crotch" inside of her again. When S.D. screamed, he told her to "shut up." The victim recalled that it hurt more than it did when it happened the first time at her house. After it was over, she went back to where she was sleeping and hid underneath her blanket, but she did not tell anyone what happened because she was still scared.

         The victim testified that the sexual abuse happened more than one time at her grandparents' house but that those occurrences were mainly in the guest room. She explained that the sexual abuse happened a few times at her grandparents' house in Jefferson Parish, but not as many times as at her house in Mississippi.

         The victim also recounted that, one time, her mouth touched defendant's "crotch." She recalled that occurred in the bathroom at her house in Carriere and that she was standing and defendant was sitting on the sink. She stated that it made her feel very uncomfortable and made her gag. The victim stated that she wanted to run away but defendant would not let her.

         She testified that defendant made her kiss him a few times on the mouth. She further stated that at some point, defendant's mouth touched her "crotch" and breasts, and that he sucked on her breasts, which made her feel uncomfortable.

         The victim testified that she was ten years old the last time defendant "abused her," because that was one of the last occasions that he was allowed at their house. The victim explained that her father banned defendant from their house because defendant tried to hurt her father by running over him with a car after an argument.

         S.D. recalled that the first person she told that defendant was "sexually abusing" her was B.D., her mother. S.D. stated that she was on the bus on her way home from school one day when she decided to tell her mother. She explained that she was happy she was not seeing defendant anymore and that she felt better about being able to tell someone what happened. S.D. felt brave enough to tell her mother because they had recently moved and defendant did not know where she lived anymore and could not find her.[3] She believed that she was twelve years old when she made that decision.

         When B.D. learned of the abuse, she became very upset.[4] B.D. decided to wait for S.D.'s father, M.D., to get home from work then they went to the police station in Mississippi. The victim gave her initial statement to the Pearl River County Police Department. During that statement, the victim revealed that her uncle had also abused her at her paternal grandparents' house in Jefferson Parish. The Pearl River County authorities advised the victim and her parents that they would need to make a similar report in Jefferson Parish.

         Thereafter, the victim met with Detective Judd Harris of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, and gave a similar statement to the detective outlining the incidents that had occurred. She was subsequently seen by Dr. Jamie Jackson at Children's Hospital in New Orleans and referred for counseling and services to the Audrey Hepburn Care Center. The victim rendered a consistent and detailed account of the abuse to each interviewer.

         At trial, the victim's mother, B.D., testified that, in 2009, their family moved into a house in Carriere, Mississippi, where they lived when S.D. was between the ages of eight and ten. B.D. stated that S.D.'s paternal grandparents lived at 5049 Richland in Jefferson Parish when S.D. was between eight and ten years old. B.D. stated that S.D. and her brother spent the night there more than twenty times and sometimes for whole weekends. B.D. testified that defendant mostly lived there. B.D. agreed that, at some point, M.D. banned defendant from their house because defendant and his former girlfriend, T.P., physically fought at their house.

         The victim's father, M.D. stated that his parents, and, for a short time, his brother, lived at 5049 Richland. M.D. state that there were two backyard sheds at that address. M.D. described one of the sheds as a fourteen foot by forty foot long shed with two sections. M.D. testified that there were large water barrels and drums stored in the back section. M.D. agreed that he banned defendant from his house because of a violent incident between defendant and defendant's girlfriend.

         The victim's parents[5] testified that they have two children, S.D. and A.D., who have both been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. B.D. noted that S.D. had challenges with social skills at school. She described S.D. as being bluntly honest and very creative. B.D. testified that S.D. loved to draw, create comic books, write stories, and play video games. She said that Japanese animation called "anime" was her favorite thing to draw. B.D. recalled that S.D.'s comic books were fantasy fiction and child-based and did not represent sexual activity or violence.

         Dr. Jamie Jackson, who was accepted as an expert in the field of child abuse pediatrics, examined S.D. at the Audrey Hepburn Care Center, which is part of Children's Hospital through LSU in New Orleans. Dr. Jackson testified that S.D. gave a clear history of sexual abuse by defendant involving penile-vaginal, digital-vaginal, and oral-breast contact when she was between eight and ten years old. She testified that S.D. indicated that defendant shoved "his private" into her "private" and that S.D. indicated on a diagram what she was talking about when she said those words. ...

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