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State v. Watson

Supreme Court of Maine

December 1, 2016

STATE OF MAINE
v.
RICHARD J. WATSON

          Argued: September 15, 2016

         On the briefs:

          Jamesa J. Drake, Esq., Drake Law, LLC, Auburn, for appellant Richard J. Watson

          R. Christopher Almy, District Attorney, and Tracy Collins, Asst. Dist. Atty., Prosecutorial District V, Bangor, for appellee State of Maine

         At oral argument:

          Jamesa J. Drake, Esq., for appellant Richard J. Watson

          Tracy Collins, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee State of Maine

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          JABAR, J.

         [¶1] Richard J. Watson appeals from a judgment of conviction of two counts of gross sexual assault (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 253(1)(C) (2015), one count of unlawful sexual contact (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 255-A(1)(F-1) (2015), and one count of visual sexual aggression against a child (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. § 256(1)(B) (2015), entered in the Unified Criminal Docket (Penobscot County, Lucy, J.) following a jury trial. Watson contends on appeal that the trial court erred by admitting testimony of the victims aunt and grandmother concerning the victims state of mind. We disagree and affirm Watsons conviction.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] The evidence at trial established, without dispute, that the victim was born in November of 2003 and is Watsons biological daughter. On August 4, 2014, when the victim was ten years old, Watson told her that he would get her a phone if she had sex with him. The victim said yes because she wanted a phone, and Watson exposed his genitals to her and touched his genitals to her genitals. The following day, Watson bought her a phone. On a separate occasion later that summer, Watson performed oral sex on his daughter and penetrated her genitals with his finger.

         [¶3] Approximately one month after the first incident occurred, the victim reported the incidents to two family members: her aunt and her grandmother.[1] The victim testified that she had promised her father she would not report the incidents because he told her he "could get in a lot of trouble, " and that "I just felt guilty cause I felt like its my fault because I said yes." The prosecutor asked, "What do you mean you felt guilty because you said yes?" "I felt guilty, " the victim replied, "because ... I said yes to the whole phone thing ... because I really wanted a phone." When the prosecutor asked the victim to describe her initial report to her aunt, the victim testified that she told her aunt that she felt "really guilty" because of what had happened. Watson did not object to this exchange.

         [¶4] The victims aunt, permitted to provide the evidence under the "first complaint rule, " see State v. Fahnley,2015 ME 82, ¶¶ 19-26, 119 A.3d 727, testified that the victim told her on the afternoon of September 7, 2014, about the two incidents. The prosecutor inquired about the circumstances of that report, asking the aunt, "[W]hat did she say her present feelings were?" "Guilty, " the aunt replied, "That was the-the big one. She said it many times." Watson objected, asserting that the victims statement was inadmissible hearsay. At sidebar, the prosecutor asserted that the statement was "being offered as a present sense ...


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