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In re James R.

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

October 30, 2014

IN RE: JAMES R

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Cecil County. O. Robert Lidums, Judge.

Submitted by: Bradford C. Peabody (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellant.

Submitted by: Susannah E. Prucka (Douglas F. Gansler, Attorney General on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellee.

Graeff, Leahy, Thieme, Raymond, G., Jr. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ. Opinion by Thieme, J.

OPINION

Page 876

[220 Md.App. 133] Thieme, J.

In this juvenile delinquency case, James R., appellant, asks this Court to review the adjudication of delinquency rendered by the Circuit Court for Cecil County. Following an adjudicatory hearing on September 25, 2013, the court determined that James was involved in the commission of an act that, if committed by an adult, would constitute second degree rape in violation of Md. Code (2002, 2012 Repl. Vol.), § 3-304(a)(1) of the Criminal Law Article. (" Crim. Law" ). Following a disposition hearing on October 23, the court ordered " commitment to the Department of Juvenile Services for appropriate placement."

In his timely appeal from the adjudication of delinquency and disposition, appellant maintains that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the court's finding of rape, specifically the [220 Md.App. 134] finding that the act was committed with force and without consent. We disagree and shall affirm the adjudication in all respects.

Background

The State's case against appellant was based primarily on the testimony of the complainant, D.[1] At the time of the incident in question, D was 14 years old and appellant was 13. The two had " dated" for a short time when they had both attended sixth grade, and continued to be friends and confidants.

Because the two had not seen each other " in a while," they " wanted to catch up." Accordingly, D's mother drove her to appellant's house at about 5:00 p.m. on the day in question. D arrived, and greeted James's parents. After this, the two went downstairs to appellant's room in the basement to watch a movie.

It was dark in the basement when appellant kissed D. The girl did not think much about this at first:

[PROSECUTOR:] Okay. So you go down to the basement to his room. What happens?
A. We go down. We set down on his bed. We talk. We watch a movie. And then he kissed me, and I was just like, oh, it's just a kiss, nothing; and then it --
Q. This is upsetting to you to have to talk about it?
A. Yes.

The two continued to watch the movie when they " laid down." Appellant then told D that he was a " monster" and whispered in D's ear that she was " going to get fucked." In the wake of these comments, D " was in shock" and she " froze." She then testified that she got raped. D said that appellant got on top of her and " penetrated"

Page 877

her; that he " stuck his penis inside [her]." Appellant " had ahold of" her [220 Md.App. 135] arms. When asked by defense counsel whether she had been struggling with appellant, D recounted that she was " squirming" as appellant was removing her pants. During the intercourse, D " said no" and then " started to cry[.]" At this, appellant got off of her. D did not consent to the sexual intercourse.

After this incident, appellant apologized, and admitted that " he's a monster." D was " upset and scared." After the police became involved, an investigating officer asked her to call appellant. Their conversation was recorded, and appellant apologized during this call. Appellant also sent text messages to D, in which he again apologized.

On cross-examination, D testified that while she did not scream, and did not alert the adults who were just upstairs, she was crying. She acknowledged that she was getting " flashbacks," which the defense apparently sought to show were the true reasons for D's distress.[2] D would not tell her mother about the incident until much later, after she spoke with friends who urged her to come forward.

Her mother, RM, testified next, and recalled that on the date in question she came to appellant's house to pick up and bring D home. RM recounted that D would not make eye contact with her, and that her daughter acted a " little bit shaky." D was " very reserved" over the following week or two, and eventually revealed the details of the incident.

The State rested after RM's testimony, and appellant testified in his defense. He presented a conflicting version of the facts, and insisted that D consented to the intercourse.

Following testimony and argument, the court found that appellant was involved in the commission of rape. The court articulated its ruling as follows:

[220 Md.App. 136] THE COURT: Not an easy case to decide because the testimony of the victim and the testimony of the accused is diametrically opposed in what actually transpired on June 5th. Therefore, the court has to look through the testimony and evaluate reasonable and rational inferences that you can ...

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