State v. Donald H.G.
Uncharged Sexual Misconduct Properly Was Admitted On Intent
Evidence | Prior Bad Acts | Criminal Law | Constitutional Law
- Connecticut Appellate Court
- AC 34392
- Feb 25 2014 (Date Decided)
- Bear, J.
Uncharged misconduct evidence may be introduced to show such things as motive, common scheme, pattern or design. Following a jury trial, Donald H.G., was convicted on counts of sexual assault in the first and third degree and risk of injury to a child, concerning claims made by his niece, a minor. The defendant appealed raising multiple claims of error. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The defendant first contended that the court erred in allowing the state to introduce evidence of uncharged misconduct. He argued that he was charged with crimes related to three incidents involving the victim, but the court permitted evidence of six incidents involving the victim and the probative value of the evidence of uncharged misconduct was far outweighed by its prejudicial effect. The Appellate Court determined that the court properly balanced probative value against prejudicial effect and did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the evidence was admissible. The court found that the uncharged sexual misconduct evidence was probative of the defendant’s intent and motive for committing the acts of sexual abuse against the victim, namely his lustful inclinations toward this specific victim. The defendant argued that the more liberal propensity standard for admission of uncharged sexual misconduct was inapplicable because the court allowed the evidence on the grounds of intent and motive, not propensity. His brief and claims on appeal did not contest admissibility on this ground and he failed to demonstrate that the court’s ruling was an abuse of discretion. The challenged evidence was not unfairly prejudicial. The court analyzed the relevant factors and performed the requisite balancing test and gave repeated cautionary instructions to the jury on the limited use of the prior sexual misconduct evidence. The panel was unable to conclude that the court abused its broad discretion in admitting it. The court also did not abuse its discretion in denying the defendant’s request for an in camera review of the victim’s psychological records. The request was vague and speculative. The defendant failed to make a threshold showing that the victim had a mental condition, as stated in the 2014 Connecticut Supreme Court case of State v. Campanaro, affecting her "ability to perceive, recall, or relate events or her testimonial capacity."