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State ex rel. R.K.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

September 24, 2018

STATE IN THE INTEREST OF R.K.[1]

          APPEALED FROM THE JUVENILE COURT EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LOUISIANA DOCKET NUMBER 110, 529 HONORABLE ADAM J. HANEY, JUDGE

          Hillar Moore III District Attorney and Otha Curtis Nelson Jr. Courtney Myers Assistant District Attorneys Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Appellant/ State of Louisiana.

          Christopher T. Freyder James R. Clary Jr. Baton Rouge, Louisiana Attorneys for Defendant/ Appellee R. K.

          BEFORE: McDONALD, CRAIN, and HOLDRIDGE, JJ.

          MCDONALD, J.

         The 16-year-old juvenile defendant, R.K., was alleged to be delinquent under petition number 110, 529, filed by the State on November 1, 2016, pursuant to the Louisiana Children's Code.[2] The petition was based upon the defendant's alleged commission of the following offenses against his nephew: obscenity, a violation of LSA-R.S. 14:106 (count one); first degree rape, a violation of LSA-R.S. 14:42A(4) (count two); and indecent behavior with juveniles, a violation of LSA-R.S. 14:81A(1) (count three). The defendant initially denied the allegations, and the matter was set for adjudication. After the State rested, the defendant moved for a directed verdict of acquittal, which the juvenile court granted as to count one and ordered that the petition be dismissed as to count one. Thereafter, pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant withdrew his denial to the allegations of the petition, entered an admission, and the court adjudicated him delinquent as to sexual battery on count two and indecent behavior with a juvenile on count three.

         At the disposition hearing, the juvenile court committed the defendant to the custody of the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ), a division of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, until his 21st birthday. The court suspended that disposition and placed the defendant on supervised probation for two years. In addition to other conditions of probation, the court also ordered the defendant to complete 50 hours of community service, cooperate with sex offender treatment, pay court costs, have no contact with the victim, and have no unsupervised contact with children under 10 years old. On appeal, the State contends that the disposition imposed by the court is illegally lenient. For the following reasons, we affirm the defendant's adjudications of delinquency and disposition.

         FACTS

         The adjudication hearing was not made part of the appellate record. According to the petition and predisposition report, the victim's parents reported the defendant to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office after the victim disclosed multiple incidents of sexual misconduct by the defendant occurring between January 1, 2015 and July 31, 2016. Specifically, the predisposition report states that, during a forensic interview at the Children's Advocacy Center, the victim disclosed that the defendant taught the victim how to masturbate, grabbed the victim's penis underneath his clothing, anally penetrated the victim, and forced the victim to watch him masturbate.

         DISPOSITION

         In its sole assignment of error, the State contends that the disposition imposed by the juvenile court was illegally lenient. The State argues that the court failed to consider the best interest of the victim and society and failed to address the defendant's full rehabilitative needs.

         After adjudicating a child to be delinquent, a court should impose the "least restrictive disposition" authorized by LSA-Ch.C. arts. 897 through 900, [3] which the court finds is consistent with the circumstances of the case, the needs of the child, and the best interest of society. LSA-Ch.C. art. 901B. Further, LSA-Ch.C. art. 901A provides, "In considering dispositional options, the court shall not remove a child from the custody of his parents unless his welfare or the safety and protection of the public cannot, in the opinion of the court, be adequately safeguarded without such removal."

         Louisiana Children's Code article 897A provides:

A. After adjudication of any felony-grade delinquent act other than those described in Article ...

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