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United States v. Cloud

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 13, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
Ronnie Fire Cloud, also known as Ronald Fire Cloud, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted November 10, 2014

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of South Dakota - Aberdeen.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Jan Leslie Holmgren, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Sioux Falls, SD; Jay P. Miller, Troy Robert Morley, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota, Pierre, SD.

Ronnie Fire Cloud, also known as: Ronald Fire Cloud, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Rochester, MN.

For Ronnie Fire Cloud, also known as: Ronald Fire Cloud, Defendant - Appellant: Terry Jay Sutton, Sutton Law Offices, Watertown, SD.

Before MURPHY, MELLOY, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

MELLOY, Circuit Judge.

A grand jury indicted Ronnie Fire Cloud for aggravated sexual abuse by force and attempted aggravated sexual abuse under 18 United States Code section 2241(a). At his trial, Fire Cloud requested the district court[1] instruct the jury regarding a lesser-included offense, abusive sexual contact, with respect to Count I, the charge for aggravated sexual abuse by force. See 18 U.S.C. § 2244(a)(1). On Count I, the jury found Fire Cloud guilty of the lesser-included offense of abusive sexual contact. On Count II, the jury found him guilty of attempted aggravated sexual abuse. Fire Cloud appeals, claiming that there was insufficient evidence of " force" to support the convictions. Because the evidence taken in the light most favorable to the verdict and reasonable inferences drawn from that evidence demonstrate that a reasonable jury could have found Fire Cloud guilty for both offenses, we affirm.

I.

At Fire Cloud's trial, witnesses described the following events. A woman wanted to spend time with her boyfriend a

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few days before her birthday, so on November 1, 2010, she met him in McLaughlin, South Dakota, a town within the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The woman's boyfriend was friends with Appellant Ronnie Fire Cloud. The woman had never met Fire Cloud before, but she accompanied her boyfriend to Fire Cloud's home. After a night of drinking alcohol and socializing at Fire Cloud's house and at a local bar, the couple went to sleep in one of Fire Cloud's spare bedrooms sometime around 4:00 in the morning.

The couple woke up around 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. Because the woman suffered from diabetes and had low blood sugar, her boyfriend left Fire Cloud's home to get her food. The woman asked Fire Cloud if she could use his shower. Fire Cloud consented. The woman entered the bathroom, locked the door, and began showering.

Soon Fire Cloud entered the bathroom; he was nude. While the woman was in the shower, he snuck up on the woman from behind, rubbed his penis against her buttocks, and grabbed between the woman's legs with his left hand. He attempted to reach one of the woman's breasts with his right hand, but the woman clamped her arm down and held Fire Cloud's hand between her arm and ribs to block his hand from reaching her breast. Fire Cloud continued pushing his hand forward. The woman " yanked away," turned around, and pushed Fire Cloud. She screamed at him to get away and told him she was going to tell her boyfriend what had happened. Fire Cloud did not leave; as the woman explained in trial, " he wouldn't get away." He instead told the woman, " Come on ...


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