Evidence Sufficient to Convict of Sexual Battery by an Authority Figure
The Tennessee crime of sexual battery by an authority figure involves unlawful sexual contact with a person age thirteen through seventeen, accomplished by using legal, professional, or occupational status placing the offender in a position of trust, supervisory, or legal authority over the victim. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 39-13-527. On appeal of the Defendant’s conviction for this crime in the recent case of State v. Beu, E2012-00176-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 12-20-2012), the Defendant argued that a Defendant should not be convicted of sexual battery without some physical evidence corroborating the testimonial evidence. The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected that argument.
In the Beu case, the Defendant was the fifteen year old victim’s second cousin. The Defendant had offered to pay her to come to his residence and scan some photos which he intended to use in a slide show presentation. The first afternoon the victim spent at the Defendant’s residence, no work was done because the Defendant forgot the scanner. He asked for her to come back on another afternoon. The second afternoon the victim spent with the Defendant, the Defendant claimed to be ill and no work was done. According to the victim, on that afternoon the Defendant removed the victim’s clothes and drew pictures on her hip, her lower back area, her inner thigh, and groin area. The Defendant was forcibly confining her during part of this activity. Specifically on her lower stomach and groin area, the Defendant drew the letters “B-G-L-S” which the Defendant told her stood for “Bad Girl Lesbian Slave.” The Defendant was pinning her against a bathroom wall while completing this drawing. Later that afternoon, the Defendant questioned the victim about sex and about what she does with her boyfriend.
When the victim’s mother arrived to pick her up, the victim ran outside and called her boyfriend, telling him some of what had happened. The boyfriend later that evening informed the victim’s mother and the victim told both her parents and showed them the drawings.
The Defendant argued at trial that the victim’s story was a fabrication. On appeal, the Defendant argued, among other things, that the victim’s testimony alone should not be sufficient to convict him of sexual battery, with no corroborating physical evidence. The Court of Criminal Appeals concluded the testimony was sufficient. They also noted that physical evidence may often not exist for a crime which only requires touching, and that in this case physical corroborating evidence did exist, in that there were photographs of the drawings on the victim’s body.
For more information on what evidence may be needed for conviction of a specific crime, contact The Lanzon Firm.