Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Roommates of Non-Custodial Parents are in A Special Position of Trust

Utah v. Watkins, 2011 UT App 96 (Utah Court of Appeals, March 24, 2011).
Watkins convicted of aggravated sexual abuse of a child appeals contending that no reasonable jury could have concluded that he was in a position of special trust with the child. 
The definition of special position of trust includes cohabitants.  Because Watkins was a roommate of the victim’s father and the victim occasionally had overnight visits with her father, Defendant was a cohabitant of the victim and thus, in a special position of trust.
Watkins also argued no reasonable jury could have concluded that his acts were not intended to arouse or gratify his sexual desire.  However, the record indicated he kissed the victim “wetly” on her head for three minutes.  This kiss was combined with his pinching and rubbing of the victim’s buttocks for two minutes.  These facts along with the fact that Watkins offered the victim $100 immediately after the incident, demonstrated that the act was intended to gratify his own desires.
Lastly, Watkins appealed the denial of a new trial based on newly discovered evidence of a text message transmitted by victim’s mother indicating Watkins entered the child’s room to discipline the child (i.e. had not gone in to kiss or otherwise molest the child).  However, the denial was not in error because this same evidence undermines Defendant’s argument at trial, which was that he entered the room because he was in need of human contact because of the loss of his own children.
Affirmed on all issues.

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