Appealed from the Twenty-Second Judicial District Court In
and for the Parish of St. Tammany, Louisiana Docket Number
553758 Honorable August J. Hand, Judge Presiding
L. Montgomery Matthew Caplan Counsel for Appellee, State of
Gwendolyn Brown Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for
Defendant/Appellant, Dennis Charles Mischler
F. Gremillion New Orleans, LA Dennis Charles Mischler Angola,
LA Pro Se
BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.
Dennis Mischler, was charged by bill of information with oral
sexual battery, violations of LSA-R.S. 14:43.3 (counts one
and two), molestation of a juvenile, a violation of LSA-R.S.
14:81.2 (count three), and possession of pornography
involving juveniles, a violation of LSA-R.S.
l4;8l.l (counts four through fifty-seven). Shortly
thereafter, the State amended counts four through fifty-seven
to more specifically allege possession of pornography
involving juveniles under the age of thirteen. He pled not
guilty to both bills. After a trial by jury, defendant was
found guilty as charged on the first thirty-two counts. For
the remaining twenty-five counts, the jury found defendant
guilty of the lesser-included offense of pornography
involving juveniles under the age of seventeen. The trial
court imposed concurrent terms of ten, ten, and fifteen years
imprisonment at hard labor, to be served without the benefit
of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence on the first
three counts. Those terms were ordered to run consecutive to
twenty-nine concurrent terms of forty years imprisonment at
hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or
suspension of sentence and twenty-five concurrent terms of
fifteen years imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of
parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. The terms for
pornography involving juveniles were all to run concurrently
to each other. Defendant now appeals. For the following
reasons, we affirm defendant's convictions and sentences.
complaints to the National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children, in October 2010 the United States Postal Inspector
and Toronto Police Service conducted an investigation into a
Canadian movie studio alternately called the "Toronto
Company" and "Azov Films." The investigation
revealed the company was producing and distributing child
pornography. A search warrant was executed and the
company's business records were recovered, including
customer names and shipping addresses. Defendant's name,
physical address, and email address were found in company
records showing multiple purchases of child
erotica and child pornography billed and shipped
to defendant. A postal inspector then conducted a forensic
investigation to confirm defendant was the person actually
accessing the company's website. Ultimately, the
inspector's investigation also determined that
defendant's email address was used to set up an account
on a website known for child pornography exchange. Further
investigation revealed defendant had been implicated in at
least two formal allegations of child sex offenses, and he
was also a known "educational worker." Having
developed this information, a local postal inspector, with
the assistance of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriffs Office,
obtained a search warrant for defendant's residence.
29, 2014, upon execution of the search warrant, law
enforcement officers recovered from defendant's bedroom a
large amount of physical and electronic child erotica and
child pornography that exclusively featured juvenile boys, in
addition to items matching those listed as sold to defendant
by the "Toronto Company." Specifically, there were
about 5, 000 images and 26 videos found on two thumb drives
located in a nightstand next to defendant's bed. Some of
the files had been accessed as recently as three to fifteen
days before the search was conducted. Files had been created
on the thumb drives over the course of five- and-a-half
years. The creation dates, however, pertained to when the
files were created on the thumb drives, not when the original
image or video had been generated. Periods of relative
inactivity on the thumb drive roughly corresponded with
defendant's claimed medical issues that put him in
repeated hospital care. The State also introduced testimony
for demonstrative purposes, and over defendant's
objection, about two videos that defendant was shown as
ordering from Azov, but which were not physically found in
his residence during the search.
who was home at the time of the search, and after having
voluntarily signed a waiver of his
Miranda rights, explained the child pornography
was not his, that he had "been hacked on," and that
he had caught "William" "seeing things on that
computer before[.]" Defendant claimed
"William" had put the photos on the thumb drives.
After ascertaining "William" was W.G.,
defendant's nephew and victim,
investigators interviewed him and obtained names of other
possible victims, including J.S. and A.E. Subsequent police
interviews with witnesses revealed victims M.M., G.W.,
A.P. Further, following media coverage of the story, two more
victims, S.L. and J.B., came forward. R.L., the final victim
to testify, was involved in the only prior allegation against
defendant to go to trial.
25 years old at the time of trial, testified that defendant
is his great-uncle. J.S. described how he would frequently go
to defendant's house in New Orleans when he was about 11
years old and continued to do so later in St. Tammany Parish.
J.S. testified in detail that while at defendant's house
in New Orleans, defendant, unbidden, got into a shower with
him and began to soap J.S.'s genitals with his bare
hands. J.S. explained that after Hurricane Katrina, while
defendant was living in St. Tammany Parish in a FEMA trailer,
defendant would give him and other boys gifts and take them
to the movies "[a]ny time [they] wanted to." During
one visit to defendant's trailer, J.S. testified that
defendant "performed oral pleasure on a sensitive
area" while J.S.'s friend was out at the store and
only stopped upon the friend's return. During his
testimony at trial, however, J.S. said he did not "know
the specifics" of that event.
described a later incident, still within a year of Katrina,
where defendant took him to a hotel and again performed oral
sex on him. On that occasion, defendant also attempted to
anally penetrate J.S., but stopped when J.S. told him to
stop. Defendant characterized his behavior to J.S. as being
"a way of expressing love." According to J.S.,
defendant had a desktop computer that J.S., his friends, and
defendant's family could use at his house, but that
defendant had a password-protected laptop that no one else
was ever allowed to use. J.S. conceded he had done some
prison time for felony possession with intent to distribute
marijuana and also admitted that he had only recently been
released from prison. J.S. also had stolen money from
defendant "a couple of times." Moreover, J.S.
testified that he told no one of the abuse until the
prosecutor approached him to talk about it in 2014. J.S. also
was aware that defendant's house had been burglarized in
the month before defendant was arrested. The State presented
prison records indicating that, among other periods, J.S. was
incarcerated between December 20, 2013 and July 14, 2014.
stated that up until the allegations for which he was then
being tried, he had a "wonderful" relationship with
J.S. Defendant denied ever touching J.S. in the shower in New
Orleans, contended that J.S. was never alone with him in his
St. Tammany FEMA trailer and said that he never took J.S.
alone to a hotel off U.S. Hwy. 190. He acknowledged that J.S.
had stolen from him.
related his experience as a Boy Scout with defendant, then a
scout leader, nearly 40 years prior. At a scouting event,
S.L., who was then 14 years old, was housed in a tent with
defendant, who was 28 years old at the time. One evening,
after defendant had pushed the bunks in the tent closer
together, defendant took S.L.'s hand and placed it on
defendant's penis three different times. S.L. first
attempted to tell a 15 or 16-year-old about the incident, but
was told by him "[d]on't say anything[, ]" and
"[y]ou'll get us all in trouble." The next day,
S.L. was able to tell his father, a DEA agent. After no
action was taken by the camp directors, S.L. and his father
notified the local Sheriffs Department. Although defendant
was initially arrested at the camp, the District Attorney
eventually chose to not prosecute the case. Thirty years
later, S.L. saw a news story about the allegations against
defendant and chose to come forward with his own story.
testified at trial and reaffirmed he had been "found
innocent of all of those charges." Defendant contended
that S.L. had been previously caught with another staff
member in bed, who was fired on the spot. He denied knowing
S.L. would be in defendant's tent, and claimed that S.L.
was mad at him because the staff member had been fired.
also a relative of defendant's, testified about an
occasion when he was six or seven years old and spent the
night with defendant at his home in New Orleans. A.E. was
taking a bath, and defendant entered the bathroom asking if
A.E. needed help. Defendant then used his bare hands to touch
A.E.'s genitals under the pretense of washing him. A.E.
also recalled that he would sit on defendant's lap, and
defendant would place his hand on A.E.'s crotch.
Defendant denied ever groping A.E. in the shower and stated
that A.E. was infrequently at his house.
another family member of both J.S. and defendant, testified
about time spent at defendant's home in New Orleans,
which he confirmed was "a gathering point" for the
family. A.P. explained that defendant purchased him clothes,
shoes, and toys because his family was financially troubled.
A.P. reported that he noticed defendant would be "pacing
back and forth" in front of the bathroom while he
showered. When A.P. was 10 or 11 years old, defendant would
"rub the backside or the front side of his hand would
rub up against the crack of [A.P.'s] butt." A.P.
also said defendant would give him and his underage male
family members alcohol to drink. During at least one of those
nights, when A.P. was around 12 or 13 years old, defendant
performed oral sex on A.P. and had A.P. engage in anal sex
with him. Following one incident, defendant asked A.P. if he
had enjoyed the night before, and defendant said to him,
"You're either gay or you're not. There's no
in between" and that defendant "was very happy
said he caught A.P., J.S., and W.G. smoking marijuana in his
house, and he reprimanded them. He denied ever giving A.P.
alcohol or engaging in sex acts with him.
J.S.'s half-brother, was 27 years old at the time of his
testimony at defendant's trial. W.G. described defendant
as the "patriarch" of the family and stated that
his home in New Orleans was the "family home,"
where holidays and summer vacations would be spent. During
one such trip, when W.G. was nine years old, he and defendant
were scrolling through photos on defendant's
password-protected computer when a photo of a naked boy
briefly popped up. The next evening, after W.G. found the
photos again on the computer, defendant woke up, and began
fondling and performing oral sex on W.G. W.G. said over his
lifetime, defendant had engaged in sexual activities such as
oral sex, masturbation, and anal sex with him more than ten
times. In another evening of drinking with defendant, A.P.
and W.G. engaged in sex acts with each other, with defendant
eventually joining them. W.G. testified that he witnessed
defendant engaging in oral and anal sex with A.P. The sexual
activities with defendant stopped when W.G. was about 16
years old, but he was aware that some occurred in St. Tammany
stated that he had never made any purchases on
defendant's computer or with defendant's credit card
and that defendant's computer was "locked down
tight." W.G. also stated that he remembered seeing
several thumb drives near defendant's computer and that
defendant had once told him if defendant died, W.G. was to
destroy them. W.G. acknowledged and described his five
misdemeanor convictions for the jury. According to W.G.,
defendant would purchase alcohol and cigarettes for him and
other young male acquaintances, if asked. The State presented
jail records indicating W.G. was incarcerated or under close
State supervision from April 30, 2012 until April 1, 2015.
Among other periods within that span, W.G. was in jail from
May 16, 2014 to June 12, 2014.
described a more tumultuous relationship, where W.G. said he
hated defendant because of a financial transaction gone wrong
between defendant and his sister, W.G.'s mother. He
claimed W.G. had stolen from him. He denied any kind of
sexual relationship with W.G. and contested the dates W.G.
lived at his house. Defendant claimed he never allowed
alcohol in his house due to his brother being killed by a
drunk driver. Defendant explained his computer was not
password-protected until after a break-in in 2014, shortly
before the search warrant was carried out on his house.
Defendant's house was open to "a lot of people who
[he] didn't know[.]"
who was about 25 years old at the time of trial, testified
about the time period when he lived in Arkansas and his
family hosted evacuees from Louisiana following Hurricane
Katrina. Then 12 years old, G.W. shared his bedroom with
defendant during defendant's time in Arkansas. G.W.
remembered defendant bringing a laptop with him on which
they, and sometimes others, would watch movies together.
Defendant would sit uncomfortably close to G.W., sometimes
placing a hand on G.W.'s leg. On one occasion, defendant
placed his hand on G.W.'s genitals on the outside of
G.W.'s shorts. A couple of days after the defendant and
his family left G. W.'s home, G.W. told his mother, who
then helped him report the incident to police. However, the
case ultimately was never prosecuted.
suggested that he bought clothing for G.W.'s family.
Defendant said G.W. stayed in another house while he was in
Arkansas, that G.W. and his friends watched movies without
him, and that he was never alone with G.W. Defendant said the
case was dismissed because he "wasn't there."
However, defendant later admitted he was "assigned to
sleep" in G.W.'s room.
who was 42 years old at the time of trial, testified
regarding his interactions with defendant in fifth grade,
when defendant taught math at a public school in New Orleans.
One day, while helping then 12-year-old R.L. alone at his
desk, defendant began to rub R.L.'s inner leg and moved
his hand to R.L.'s testicles. R.L. told his parents, and
although the case went to a bench trial, defendant was found
not guilty. R.L. related that he had two prior misdemeanor
convictions for DUI and purse snatching.
alleged that R.L. was actually being molested by his father
and claimed that he attempted to intervene to help R.L. The
result of that attempted intervention, defendant posited, was
the unfounded accusation against himself. Defendant testified
that with the way the classroom was set up, he could not have
touched R.L. without everyone else in the classroom seeing,
implying they were never alone.
who was 59 years old at trial, testified regarding his
experience with defendant while in Boy Scouts. Defendant was
an assistant Scoutmaster in J.B.'s troop. J.B. recounted
one evening where the defendant, then 21 years old, slept
between J.B., who was 13 years old, and another scout in a
tent. While in the tent, defendant reached down into
J.B.'s pants and began to grab and manipulate J.B.'s
penis with his hand. On another occasion, during an overnight
visit by defendant to J.B.'s home when he was 14 years
old, J.B. woke up to defendant performing oral sex on him.
J.B. was prompted to come forward after hearing a report of
defendant's arrest on the instant charges.
claimed that a storm happened on the night of the alleged
incident and that the storm kept him awake all night. He
denied ever sleeping in a tent with "any child" or
sleeping at J.B.'s home.
was 50 years old at trial, is defendant's nephew and
godchild. M.M. described defendant as the patriarch of the
family, who would at times provide financial assistance to
other family members. M.M. testified that when he was about
three years old, defendant took him into a room at a family
home and put his penis through M.M.'s thighs from behind,
but that there was no penetration. Later, after M.M. began
living with defendant, defendant and defendant's brother
would perform oral or anal sex on M.M. "two times a week
or more," totaling "over a hundred times,"
until M.M. moved out at the age of 13. M.M. recounted how
defendant made him swallow his ejaculate on each occasion of
oral sex and how painful the anal sex was every time.
Defendant told M.M. that if he told anyone, no one would
believe him and that he would end up going to a boys home and
would never see his mother again. M.M. testified he told no
one until he disclosed the past events to his first wife,
after he was having issues with alcohol and anger. Several
years later, when meeting with defendant in a New Orleans
restaurant, defendant confessed to both M.M. and his first
wife that he had perpetrated the abuse, and that it was his
"way of showing love" and "the only way he
understood to show love." Defendant soon thereafter gave
M.M. money to pay for therapy. M.M. admitted to three
admitted that he saw M.M. frequently as a child. Defendant
claimed he did not hear of M.M.'s allegations until 2015,
in a recording made subsequent to M.M. coming forward. He
acknowledged that M.M. had once borrowed $1, 500.00 from him
and that M.M.'s ex-wife had once asked him for $400.00.