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State v. C.T.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

July 30, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
C. T.

          ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 15-5781, DIVISION "B" HONORABLE CORNELIUS E. REGAN, JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA, Paul D. Connick, Jr., Terry M. Boudreaux, Juliet L. Clark.

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, C. T., Martin E. Regan, Jr.

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, STATE OF LOUISIANA, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Jeffrey M. Landry, Colin Clark, J. Taylor Gray.

          Panel composed of Judges Stephen J. Windhorst, Hans J. Liljeberg, and Timothy S. Marcel, Pro Tempore.

          HANS J. LILJEBERG JUDGE

         Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence for aggravated rape of a juvenile under the age of thirteen. For the following reasons, we affirm defendant's conviction and sentence. We also remand to the trial court with instructions to provide defendant with written notice of the sex offender registration requirements, as required by La. R.S. 15:543.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         On January 28, 2016, a Jefferson Parish Grand Jury returned an indictment charging defendant, C.T., [1] with aggravated rape[2] of a known juvenile (D.O.B. 8/26/2004), where the victim was under the age of thirteen, in violation of La. R.S. 14:42. The matter proceeded to trial, and a twelve-person jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged on November 8, 2017.[3] On December 11, 2017, the trial court sentenced defendant to life imprisonment at hard labor without benefit of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Defendant appeals.

         FACTS

         The victim, D.A., was born on August 26, 2004, and he was thirteen years old at the time of trial. At trial, D.A. testified that he has one brother and two sisters. He stated that when he was eight years old, he began living with his father, who is the defendant herein, and his grandmother in Metairie, Louisiana. In July of 2015, D.A. went to visit his mother, A.A., who lived in Ponchatoula. While he was in bed with his younger sister, they began touching each other, and he put his "private into her front." D.A. testified that when his mom came into the room and asked what was going on, he confessed that he did that because "it was the same thing my dad did to me." D.A.'s mother took him to the doctor and he was also questioned by police, informing them of what defendant had done to him. D.A. also recalled that prior to moving in with defendant, he briefly lived with a family friend named Kandi Fields and confided in her that once while at defendant's house, he woke up lying next to defendant with his pants down.

         Brittney Bergeron, a forensic interviewer for the Jefferson Children's Advocacy Center (CAC), interviewed D.A. on August 13, 2015. During the interview, D.A. told Ms. Bergeron that in the summer when he was eight years old, he lived with defendant and got a "whooping" for breaking a plate but stated that the "whooping" was not like a regular "whooping" because it hurt inside his "butthole" and that "it felt stretched out." D.A. explained that he first got fifteen whips with the belt on his bare buttocks. He told Ms. Bergeron that when he gets hit with the belt defendant makes him take his pants and underwear off and hits him on the "butt cheek," thighs, and lower back. Then after he was hit, defendant "bent over on me and did something I didn't understand." D.A. explained he was lying on his stomach when defendant bent over him on his hands and knees "like a dog getting ready to use the bathroom" and then "a warmish cylinder like thing [was] going into my butthole." At first D.A. did not know what the "cylinder like thing" was; he thought maybe it was defendant's finger, but it kept going "in and out, in and out of his butthole." He assumed it was defendant's "private part" but was asking himself "why would he do that." After about thirty seconds to a minute defendant stopped, told D.A. to put his clothes back on, and then told him he had gotten a "whooping." D.A. thought to himself "that was not a whooping."

         D.A. stated that defendant would "sometimes put lotion on his butt cheek." He indicated that it happened more than one time, recalling that when he was nine, while at his grandmother's house with defendant, defendant told D.A. that he liked to "make up stories," so he made up a story that D.A. had misplaced something and it was time for him to get a "whooping," telling him to take off his pants and underwear. Defendant told D.A. he had to take his clothes off to "see how much it hurts." So D.A. "got in the same position," and defendant hit him on the "butt cheek" with the belt twice and then defendant rubbed his own private part with his hand while leaning on the side of the bed. He then bent over D.A. "like a baby crawling" and stuck his private part in D.A.'s "butthole" "in and out, in and out." After he was finished, he told D.A. to put his clothes back on. D.A. stated that on that occasion defendant put coconut lotion on D.A.'s "butt cheeks" and his "butthole." D.A. also confessed that defendant scares him, and he did not want to tell anyone about what happened because defendant threatened to hurt his family members.

         D.A. then recalled a third incident when he was nine or ten years old, and defendant called him upstairs and accused D.A. of breaking his television. When D.A. denied it, defendant told D.A. "you're getting a whooping" and then had D.A. take off his pants and underwear, placed lotion on D.A.'s "butthole" and "butt cheek," took off his own clothes, and he stuck his "private part" in and out of D.A.'s "butthole."

         Lastly, D.A. explained a fourth incident in which defendant accused D.A. of not rolling his window down in the car, and defendant told him he was getting a "whooping." He recalled defendant took off his pants and underwear and D.A.'s pants and underwear, and hit him twenty times with the belt on his back, his buttocks, and his hand. He stated that defendant got "more mad," rubbed lotion on himself and on D.A.'s "butthole" with his finger, and then stuck his "private" in D.A.'s "butthole" several times. When he was done he told D.A. to go back to his room and think about what he had done. D.A. also stated that when he was ten he found a video in defendant's drawer, and when he turned it on it was a video of "naked girls," so he turned it off and put it back.

         D.A. testified that he never told anyone about what his father did to him during the two years he lived with defendant because he was scared to tell his family. He explained that defendant had threatened to hurt someone in D.A.'s family if D.A. told anyone. He further testified that he had lived with his mother's other boyfriends, and none of them had ever sexually abused him.

         On August 1, 2015, Dr. Sonseeahray Bridges, a pediatric physician at Children's Hospital in New Orleans, examined D.A. who was brought to the hospital by his mother, along with his sister, K.A. His mother, A.A., reported that she found D.A. in bed with his sister with no pants or underwear on and that her daughter disclosed to her that D.A. had put his penis in her butt on more than one occasion. A.A. also advised Dr. Bridges that D.A. reported to her that defendant had done the same thing to him, "meaning that he had put his penis in D.A.'s butt." D.A. told Dr. Bridges that it occurred with his father more than once. Dr. Bridges testified that D.A.'s physical examination was normal, explaining that D.A.'s last contact with his father was three weeks prior to her examination giving any evidence of potential trauma time to have healed.

         Kandi Fields, a family friend, testified that when D.A. was seven or eight years old, A.A. moved to Texas. Ms. Fields stated that D.A. lived with her for approximately two weeks, and this was before he moved in with defendant. During that two-week period, defendant would pick D.A. up from Ms. Fields' home and keep him over the weekend. After one of his weekend visits with defendant, D.A. reported to Ms. Fields that defendant was "crazy" and "nasty." When asked what he meant, D.A. began to cry and stated, "my daddy licks my butt when he thinks I'm asleep." Mrs. Fields called A.A. who drove back from Texas and picked up D.A.

         A.A. testified that defendant is her ex-boyfriend and that D.A. is their son who was born on August 26, 2004, after they had ended their relationship. In 2012, A.A. moved to Texas with her two daughters, leaving D.A. with Mrs. Fields because she believed the move would be difficult for him being the eldest of the children. A.A. recalled that prior to moving to Texas, defendant had come back into D.A.'s life, which pleased her, knowing the importance of having a father figure.

         A couple of weeks after she moved to Texas, A.A. received a phone call from Mrs. Fields prompting her to return to Louisiana to retrieve her son. She recalled that D.A. would not tell her what he had told Mrs. Fields and that she told him she was going to have to call the police, yet never did, wanting to believe it was not possible.

         A.A. took D.A. back to Texas with her in 2012 but eventually returned to Louisiana. In the summer of 2013, when D.A. was about eight years old, A.A. moved to Pontchatoula and sent D.A. to live with defendant. A.A. testified that she allowed D.A. to live with defendant because she wanted D.A. to have a relationship with his father and D.A. told her that what he had told Mrs. Fields did not happen.

         A.A. testified that in July of 2015, after D.A. had been living with defendant for approximately two years, D.A. came to visit her for three weeks in Ponchatoula, where she was living at the time with her fiancé. One night during his visit, D.A. went to bed with his sister, K.A., and when A.A. went to check on them, she could "tell something was going on," so she pulled back the covers and saw K.A.'s underwear was off. A.A. asked D.A. what was going on and based on his response, immediately called defendant yelling, "here we go again with this." Defendant told A.A. that D.A. was lying, at which time A.A. hung up on him and called the police. After speaking to the police, D.A. was sent to Children's Hospital where A.A. relayed to Dr. Bridges what had happened.

         Dr. Jamie Jackson, an expert in the field of child abuse pediatrics, testified that she met with D.A. on August 24, 2015, and conducted a physical examination, which revealed no acute injuries. Dr. Jackson explained that she did not find this surprising because there are not always physical injuries present when an examination has been performed on a victim of sexual abuse. Dr. Jackson explained that most sexual abuse examinations result in normal findings, particularly when the sexual abuse involves penetration of the anus due to the body's ability to heal quickly in that area. She also noted that the last reported trauma had been six weeks prior to her examination.

         Defendant's mother, E.T., testified that defendant and D.A. lived with her for two and a half years when D.A. was between the ages of eight and ten and that during that time D.A. did not want to be there. E.T. testified that while he lived with them, D.A. behaved "terrible," some nights getting up to watch "dirty movies" on the HBO channel and at times intentionally failing to flush the toilet after he had been reprimanded, even smearing "his bowels" on her rug on one occasion. E.T. testified that she overheard D.A. state that he wanted to be with his mother, and not his "black family." She further stated that she never saw any inappropriate behavior between D.A. and defendant.

         Terry Lee, E.T.'s next-door neighbor, testified that he bought D.A. a bike after he moved in with his grandmother and that D.A. told him he could not ride the bike "because his mother is white and his father is black and he didn't want to get dark." D.A. told him he did not want to be black, he wanted to be more like his mother and grandmother, or light-skinned like his sisters. He further stated that one time when D.A. came over to his house he "wasn't acting normal" and that he could not get D.A. to talk, so he told ...


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