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State v. Miller

Supreme Court of Maine

August 9, 2018

STATE OF MAINE
v.
RALPH C. MILLER

          Argued: July 18, 2018

          William H. Ashe, Esq. (orally), The Law Offices of William H. Ashe, Ellsworth, for appellant Ralph C. Miller

          Kathryn Loftus Slattery, District Attorney, and Anne Marie Pazar, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District 1, Alfred, for appellee State of Maine

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

          SAUFLEY, C.J.

         [¶1] Ralph C. Miller appeals from a judgment of conviction for twenty-eight counts of gross sexual assault[1] (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 253(2)(H) (2017), entered by the court (York County, Douglas, J.) following a jury trial. Miller challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to convict him of each count of gross sexual assault. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the jury rationally could have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Hall, 2017 ME 210, ¶ 29, 172 A.3d 467.

         [¶3] Miller, who is the victim's biological father, first met the victim in August of 2008. The victim had experienced an unstable childhood, and she moved in with Miller and his family in late 2008. She was fifteen years old at the time.

         [¶4] Shortly after she moved in, Miller put his hand over the victim's mouth, pulled down her pants, and forced his penis into her vagina.[2] Following this initial assault, Miller sexually assaulted the victim in the same way "more than 50 times," "almost on a weekly basis," and "for month after month between [her] 15th birthday and [her] 18th." The victim testified that "on every occasion," Miller "insert[ed] his penis into my vagina."

         [¶5] The victim moved out of Miller's house shortly after her eighteenth birthday. For approximately three years between 2013 and 2016, after she had moved out of Miller's home, the victim and Miller maintained a relationship that involved no assaultive behavior. However, on February 17, 2016, Miller had sexual intercourse with the victim. Following this incident, the victim, who "felt dirty and gross," went to a hospital to obtain a sexual assault examination. At the hospital, a certified sexual assault nurse examiner collected semen from the victim's vagina and cervix, and DNA from the semen was later shown to match Miller's.

         [¶6] A detective from the Biddeford Police Department interviewed the victim, and she described incidents of sexual assault beginning when she was fifteen years old. She gave the detective a number of details regarding the consequences of Miller's sexual assault on her.

         [¶7] One month later, with the victim's approval, the detective arranged a pretextual phone call to Miller. Pursuant to the detective's plan, the victim called Miller on a recorded line. Among other things, she reminded him of his sexual assaults. Miller then stated:

I'm sorry for everything. I should have just left you alone. . . And I just want you to know that no matter what happens ..., I'm going to love you. I'm still going to talk to you. You don't have to do that with me if you ...

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