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State v. Reyes

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

January 9, 2017

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Edwin Gochingco Reyes, Appellant.

         Dakota County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-13-2657

         Affirmed.

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Elizabeth M. Swank, Assistant County Attorney, Hastings, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Jeffrey C. Dean, Dean Law Office, Minneapolis, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Halbrooks, Presiding Judge; Rodenberg, Judge; and Kirk, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         A stepgrandfather-stepgranddaughter relationship constitutes a "significant relationship" as defined by Minn. Stat. § 609.341, subd. 15 (2010).

          OPINION

          HALBROOKS, Judge.

         Appellant challenges his second-degree criminal-sexual-conduct convictions, arguing the district court erred when it interpreted the term "significant relationship" in Minn. Stat. § 609.341, subd. 15, to include a stepgrandfather-stepgranddaughter relationship and abused its discretion when it permitted experts to testify generally about sexual abuse of adolescents. Because we hold that the district court correctly found stepgrandfathers to be included in the statutory definition of "significant relationship" and that the district court did not err when it allowed into evidence general expert testimony regarding characteristics of minors who have been sexually abused, we affirm.

         FACTS

         In February 2007, M.C.'s mother, C.R., married R.R., the son of appellant Edwin Gochingco Reyes. According to M.C., one summer day in 2009, when she was 11 years old, Reyes-M.C.'s stepgrandfather by marriage-told M.C. that she had to kiss him in order to receive a gift. When M.C. attempted to kiss Reyes on the lips, Reyes inserted his tongue into M.C.'s mouth. Reyes told M.C. that she did not have to tell anyone about the kiss; so M.C. did not tell anyone at that time.

         That same summer, M.C. stayed at Reyes's house while her mother and stepfather attended a baseball game. M.C., her sister, and Reyes were watching TV while on Reyes's bed. Reyes told M.C. to sit next to him. M.C. complied and eventually fell asleep. She woke up from a nap to find Reyes moving her hand inside his pants, rubbing his penis in a circular motion. M.C. did not know what to do until 20-30 seconds later when she pulled her hand away and said that she had to go to the bathroom. M.C. typed a text message to send to R.R. describing what happened, but erased it before sending it because she was afraid, nervous, and embarrassed, and did not know if R.R. would believe her. Later that day, Reyes and Z.R., Reyes's wife, took M.C. to a mall where Reyes asked M.C. if she was upset about what happened. M.C. did not respond and did not tell anyone about it because she felt weak and embarrassed.

         In late summer 2010, M.C. stayed with Reyes for a weekend while her mother and stepfather were out of town. Reyes and M.C. were in the basement alone. Reyes asked M.C. to sit on his lap. When she did, Reyes started touching and grabbing M.C.'s chest over her clothes, and put his hand inside M.C.'s pants but on top of her underwear. This continued for 5-10 seconds. When M.C. left, Reyes again told her she did not have to tell anyone what had happened.

         In mid-October 2010, M.C., C.R., and R.R. moved to Nebraska. While working on a school health lesson with M.C. about sexual touching, C.R. asked her if anyone had ever touched her inappropriately. In response, M.C. told C.R. about the incidents with Reyes. C.R. and R.R. decided to set up therapy for M.C. and themselves. As time went on, M.C. disclosed more details about the events.

         In January 2012, R.R. reported the incidents to the police. Detective Stephanie Bolks, a specialist in crimes-against-persons cases, investigated the report but was unsuccessful in her attempts to contact Reyes. M.C. was later interviewed by Mindee Rolles, a forensic interviewer. Reyes was charged with criminal sexual conduct in the second degree (victim under 16) (significant relationship), pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.343, subd. 1(g) (2010), occurring on or about May 1, 2010 through October 1, 2010, and criminal sexual conduct in the second degree (victim under 16) (significant relationship), pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 609.343, subd. 1(g) (2008), occurring on or about May 1, 2009 through October 1, 2009.[1]

         At a pretrial hearing, the state requested permission, through the testimony of Rolles, to address why a child may delay reporting, what circumstances may lead to a child disclosing, and to whom a child may disclose. Reyes objected, arguing that this evidence would improperly bolster M.C.'s credibility. The district court reserved ruling on the issue, pending the presentation on foundation presented by the state.

         At trial, the state called Rolles and Detective Bolks as witnesses, and both testified to behaviors and characteristics common in sexual-abuse-of-adolescent cases. The defense did not renew its objection to Rolles's testimony or object to Detective Bolks's testimony as improperly bolstering M.C.'s credibility. The jury found ...


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