Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Steelman v. Cain

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

February 2, 2018

KENNETH STEELMAN
v.
BURL CAIN

          HICKS CHIEF JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Mark L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Introduction

         Kenneth Steelman (“Petitioner”) was charged in Sabine Parish with aggravated rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile based on allegations that he molested his two stepdaughters. He was convicted of both counts after a bench trial, and his convictions were affirmed on direct appeal.[1] Petitioner now seeks federal habeas corpus relief on the grounds that the evidence-primarily the testimony of the two girls-was insufficient to support the convictions. He points to inconsistencies between their statements to an investigator and their trial testimony, alleged evidence of coaching, and other reasons to question their credibility. For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that the petition be denied.

         Relevant Trial Evidence

         Bridget and Tony Diener were married and had three children, a son and two daughters. Tony passed away around 2001. Bridget married Petitioner a few years later, and he joined her and her children as a family that lived together for several years before claims of abuse were made.

         The claims arose after the younger daughter, A.D., confided in a friend that her stepfather had been molesting her. The friend reported this to her mother, who contacted Bridget. The girls were questioned by Bridget, Petitioner was kicked out of the house, and law enforcement got involved. When the girls were questioned, they stated that Bridget and Petitioner were getting a divorce. Bridget, who had already been suffering from colon cancer before the molestation came to light, died before trial.

         Deputy Sheriff Jason Rivers testified at trial that the two girls were taken to the Rapides Children's Advocacy Center in Alexandria for recorded interviews (that were played as evidence at trial). Both girls accused Petitioner of molesting them. Afterward, Petitioner was invited to the Sheriff's Office for an interview. Rivers said that, before the deputies could explain what they were going to do and administer Miranda warnings, Petitioner “immediately started telling us that he had information that the children were molested by their uncle.” The deputies stopped him, explained his Miranda rights, and continued the interview. Petitioner soon asked for an attorney, which ended the interview.

         Defense counsel asked Deputy Rivers if he investigated the complaint against the uncle. Rivers said that he spoke to the man by telephone and interviewed some family members, but he did not record the interviews. There is no indication that Petitioner or anyone else had previously reported to law enforcement that the uncle was molesting the children.

         A.D. was 10 years old when she was interviewed at the Advocacy Center in 2010. She said that her father had died when she was so young that she “didn't even get to meet him.” Her mother married Petitioner when she was about five years old, and she said the abuse started after the marriage. She said it would happen when her mother was gone, such as when she took another child to a ball game. She said Petitioner would use his hands and a “boy's lower area” to touch her. She said he touched her “boobs” and “cookie, ” licked her cookie “a lot” and twice tried to penetrate her. A.D. said that Petitioner would try to take off her clothes “most of the time, but most of the time I wouldn't let him.” The examiner asked her if anything “ever came out of his thing, ” and A.D. said there was “some, like white stuff.”

         A.D. was asked if she thought Petitioner did anything to P.D., her older sister. A.D. answered:

A.D. I know that he tried, like she told me like my momma told her like to get her story straight when we got up here. But like before we left the house we were just talking about what we was gonna say. And she said that he touched her boobs and that was it.

         The examiner followed up in this exchange:

Examiner: Oh, excuse me. Well and tell me more about that. You said that your mom like was telling y'all to make sure you had your stories straight before y'all came up here?
A.D. Yeah like to tell the truth about what happened.

         A.D. also said that she was once outside playing ball while P.D. played on a trampoline. Petitioner came outside, got on the trampoline and started “doing stuff” with P.D. A.D. said that she ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.