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State v. Anderson

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 2, 2013

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
William Maurice Anderson, Appellant.


Ramsey County District Court File No. 62-CR-12-1102.

Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and John J. Choi, Ramsey County Attorney, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant County Attorney, St. Paul, Minnesota (for respondent)

Kirk Anderson, Anderson Law Firm, PLLC, Special Assistant State Public Defender, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Kirk, Presiding Judge; Kalitowski, Judge; and Chutich, Judge.


Appellant William Maurice Anderson appeals his conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, contending that the district court abused its discretion or plainly erred in making various evidentiary rulings at trial and by inappropriately imposing an upward sentencing departure. He also claims that the prosecutor committed misconduct and that his defense attorney provided him with ineffective assistance of counsel.

Because the district court did not abuse its discretion or err on the evidentiary issues raised by Anderson, no prosecutorial misconduct occurred, and Anderson's defense attorney provided him with effective assistance of counsel, we affirm his conviction. Because the district court improperly sentenced Anderson to an upward departure, we reverse his sentence only and remand for further sentencing proceedings.


Anderson married H.M.'s mother, J.A., in approximately 2005, when H.M. was eight years old. Anderson was H.M.'s stepfather, but H.M. referred to him as "Dad." When H.M. reached puberty, Anderson's relationship with H.M. evolved inappropriately.

In 2010, when H.M. was approximately twelve years old, Anderson suggested that he should engage in sexual behavior with her to teach her about sex. Anderson also told H.M. that he heard her having a sexual dream one night and that she tried to get him to have sex with her. Anderson then told H.M. that he had sex with her that night. H.M. did not believe that she and Anderson had sex, but later found a dildo behind her bed. Anderson told her he had romantic feelings for her, and this made H.M. "afraid and worried" because "[she] didn't think it was right to feel that way."

After Anderson told H.M. he had romantic feelings for her, she went to her grandmother's home in California for the summer. Anderson conversed by phone with H.M. while she was in California about having sex together. H.M.'s grandmother noticed that H.M. and Anderson talked on the phone for one or two hours several times a week and that H.M. closed her door during these conversations. When H.M. came home from California, Anderson provided marijuana for them to smoke together. Shortly after that, Anderson told her again that he needed to help her learn about sex, and he touched her breasts.

Anderson later told H.M. that she needed to try the drug ecstasy because she would soon be exposed to drugs at school. H.M. took the ecstasy that Anderson gave her, and Anderson then suggested that they go upstairs to a bedroom to play with glow sticks. While H.M. was playing with the glow sticks, Anderson rubbed H.M.'s genitals over her pants and then put his hand under her pants and put his finger in her vagina. Anderson stopped when H.M. told him it made her uncomfortable; he told her that his "feelings just came about, and it just happened." Anderson touched her breasts again the following winter and told her he was doing it to help her learn about sex. When H.M. responded that it made her uncomfortable and that she did not like it, he told her that they could take a break and did not have to do it again.

H.M. went to California again the summer of 2011, and Anderson and H.M. again talked on the phone about having sex. Anderson told her they needed to have sex together because it would help her learn how sex works and strengthen their relationship. After H.M. returned to Minnesota, Anderson had sex with H.M. while her mother was traveling. H.M. saw that her stepfather was uncircumcised, used a condom with a square, gold wrapper with black print on it, and also used lubricant.

Anderson had sex with H.M. a total of eight times that summer and fall. During this time period, Anderson also penetrated her vagina with his fingers, and once he performed oral sex on H.M. Anderson gave H.M. an inhalant called "poppers" several of the times they had sex to help her muscles relax. H.M. asked Anderson to stop every time they had sex because it was painful for her, and he complied. Anderson told H.M. three or four times that she could not tell anyone about what they were doing because he would go to jail and their family would fall apart.

In addition to the ecstasy and "poppers, " Anderson also suggested that H.M. should try cocaine, alcohol, and tobacco products. H.M. tried all of these things after Anderson gave them to her, but Anderson and H.M. did not have sex after she used them.

In November 2011, H.M. told Anderson that she did not want to have sex because of the stress she was experiencing. Anderson later expressed anger at her in a text message for her refusal.

In January of 2012, H.M. began dating a boy from school. H.M.'s family went to dinner with the boy's family, and Anderson later told H.M. that he did not approve of her dating because it would "get in the way of [their] relationship." H.M. told Anderson that she did not want to continue a sexual relationship with him. As a result, Anderson responded that she would be punished more often and that he would not be as open to her spending time with her friends. H.M.'s mother walked in on the two of them arguing, and Anderson told her, "We're having a mature relationship behind your back." H.M. told her mother the next night about having sex and using drugs with Anderson. H.M.'s mother immediately called the police and filed a report. H.M. was then taken to Midwest Children's Resource Center in St. Paul, where she was interviewed and physically evaluated by a registered nurse.

Ramsey County charged Anderson with first-degree criminal sexual conduct. See Minn. Stat. § 609.342, subd. 1(h)(iii) (2010). A jury trial took place over five days in April and May 2012. H.M. testified about the abuse she suffered, and her mother and grandmother also testified. Condoms, lubricant, and "poppers" matching H.M.'s description were admitted into evidence at trial, and H.M.'s mother corroborated H.M.'s testimony that Anderson was uncircumcised. Additionally, the registered nurse who examined H.M. at the Midwest Children's Resource Center testified, and Anderson's journal and text messages to H.M. were admitted into evidence.

Anderson testified at trial. He admitted that he had an inappropriately close relationship with H.M., but denied ever having sexual contact with her. He stated that J.A. was very jealous of the relationship he had with H.M. Anderson testified that H.M. fabricated the allegations of sexual abuse against him to punish him because he was divorcing H.M.'s mother.

The jury found Anderson guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and he was sentenced to 258 months imprisonment, an upward ...

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