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United States v. Gaudet

United States District Court, D. Maine

November 9, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
WILLIAM GAUDET, Defendant.

          ORDER REGARDING TESTIMONY OF JENNY G. AND STATE COURT JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION

          GEORGE Z. SINGAL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Defendant William Gaudet's Comprehensive Motion in Limine as to the issue of the admissibility of Jenny G.'s prior testimony (ECF No. 45) and the Government's request to admit Defendant's prior conviction regarding Jenny G. (ECF No. 93).[1] For the reasons explained below, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion to exclude Jenny G.'s testimony and GRANTS the Government's request to admit the prior judgment of conviction.

         In the present case, Defendant is charged with crimes involving unlawful sexual contact with his minor daughter, T.G.[2] Defendant was previously tried and convicted in state court with sexually abusing a different daughter, Jenny G., when she was 12 and 16 years old. The Government is seeking to admit both Jenny G.'s testimony at the state trial and the judgment of conviction.

         Testimony of Jenny G.

         As this Court has previously indicated, Jenny G.'s testimony does not pose any hearsay or Confrontation Clause problems because she is deceased and she was cross-examined at the prior judicial proceeding by counsel for Defendant. See Fed.R.Evid. 804(b)(1). However, Defendant “continues to object to the admission of any statement by Jenny G. pursuant to [Federal Rules of Evidence] 413, 414, 404, or 403.” (Def.'s Resp. to Court Order (ECF No. 94), PageID # 439.) After careful consideration, the Court concludes that Jenny G.'s testimony is admissible pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 413.

         Rule 413 provides, “In a criminal case in which a defendant is accused of a sexual assault, the court may admit evidence that the defendant committed any other sexual assault.” Fed.R.Evid. 413(a). “Sexual assault” is defined under the Rule to include any crime involving contact without consent between any part of the defendant's body and another person's genitals or anus, or contact without consent between the defendant's genitals or anus and another person's body. Fed.R.Evid. 413(d)(2)-(3). The Court readily determines that Defendant has been accused of a “sexual assault” in this case, namely, unlawful contact with T.G.'s genitals. See Fed.R.Evid. 413(d)(2)-(3); see also Gov't's Proposed Jury Instructions, Proposed Instruction #1 (ECF No. 84), PageID # 226 (suggesting that Defendant is accused of violating Maine law prohibiting touching the genitals of a person under the age of 13).[3] The Court also determines that Jenny's G.'s testimony that Defendant rubbed her unclothed breast when she was 12, and rubbed her vagina and rubbed his penis on her leg when she was 16, constitutes evidence of “any other sexual assault” within the meaning of Rule 413. See Fed.R.Evid. 413(d)(1), (2)-(3); 18 U.S.C. § 2246(3) (defining “sexual contact” prohibited under chapter 109A to include “the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the . . . breast . . . of any person”). Therefore, Jenny G.'s testimony is admissible, including as evidence of Defendant's propensity to commit the charged offenses, pursuant to Rule 413.

         The Court further determines (1) pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 401 that the evidence that Defendant previously sexually abused one of his own daughters is highly relevant, and (2) pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 403 that the probative value of this evidence is not substantially outweighed by a danger of unfair prejudice. See United States v. Joubert, 778 F.3d 247, 254 (1st Cir. 2015) (determining that the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting testimony that the defendant had previously abused children other than the named victim and noting that courts have admitted testimony about prior abuse “where that testimony showed that the defendant sought a similar type of sexual gratification”). For these reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion to the extent it seeks to exclude Jenny G.'s testimony about the incidents of abuse by Defendant.

         Judgment of Conviction

         The Court also GRANTS the Government's request to admit Defendant's state court judgment of conviction for sexually abusing Jenny G. The conviction is admissible pursuant to Rule 413 for the same reasons her testimony regarding the incidents of abuse is admissible under that Rule. See United States v. Majeroni, 784 F.3d 72, 75-76 (1st Cir. 2015) (noting that Rule 414's allowance for the admission of evidence of other incidents of sexual abuse grants the trial court discretion to admit evidence of a prior conviction). The Court similarly determines that the judgment of conviction is relevant and that its probative value is not substantially outweighed by a danger of unfair prejudice considering that the conviction can permissibly go to Defendant's motive, intent, and propensity, among other uses.

         In summary, the Court (1) DENIES Defendant's Motion to the extent he seeks to exclude Jenny G.'s testimony regarding the incidents of abuse by Defendant when she was 12 and 16 years old; and (2) GRANTS the Government's request to admit Defendant's judgment of conviction for the offenses against Jenny G. These rulings are made WITHOUT PREJUDICE to Defendant renewing his objections at trial outside the presence of the jury.

         SO ORDERED.

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Notes:

[1] The Court has previously ruled on other aspects of Defendant's Motion. (ECF No. 78.) The Government has not separately moved to admit the prior conviction but made the request in its Supplemental Response to Defendant's Motion in Limine. (ECF No. 93.) The Court set a deadline for Defendant to ...


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