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Rishton v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 26, 2014

BRUCE RISHTON
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

Assigned on Briefs on September 9, 2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Sequatchie County No. 13-CV-68 Thomas W. Graham, Judge

Bruce Rishton, Dunlap, Tennessee, pro se.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie Price, Senior Counsel, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

OPINION

D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., Judge

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On March 15, 2006, the Petitioner was indicted for the rape of his sister-in-law, T.C., case number S51, 181, and multiple sexual acts against his minor adopted daughter, H.R., case number S51, 180. On November 6, 2006, the Petitioner entered "best interest" guilty pleas in case number S51, 181 to one count of attempted rape, a Class C felony, and in case number S51, 180 to five counts of incest and five counts of attempted rape, Class C felonies. At the guilty plea hearing, the prosecutor recited the following factual basis for the pleas:

If we had proceeded to trial in Case No. S51, 181 the State would have [presented] the following evidence. On August 29, 2005 the victim, [T.C.], who is an adult individual and she is also the [Petitioner's] sister-in-law, was staying with the [Petitioner] and her sister, . . ., in Sullivan County, Tennessee. She had young children there with her . . . at the [Petitioner's] residence. She would state that she woke up from a dead sleep with the [Petitioner] lying either on her or beside her with her pants down digitally penetrating her vagina. [T.C.] would give a history of prior sexual assaults with this [Petitioner], should it become relevant, reaching back into her minority when she lived with [her sister] and [the Petitioner] and their children. She would state that she did not give her consent and was awakened to an offense already committed. She immediately told her sister. She immediately called the police. This was immediately turned over.
As to [Case No.] S51, 180, the parties would stipulate that the offenses occurred on the dates as alleged in the indictments or presentments. The victim is [H.R.]. Her date of birth was August 28th, 1989. After [T.C.] came forward with her abuse within about a 24 hour period [H.R.] also told her mother that this had been also happening to her for some period of time. [H.R.] would go on to tell authorities that her abuse began in another jurisdiction back in the year 2000 and continued until the August 29th date when [T.C.] came forward.
[H.R.] . . . gave details, although many more offenses occurred than the State has charged. The State took a diary and worked around significant dates in [H.R.'s] life to come up with the dates that we ultimately used. All of those events occurred either in the home in Sullivan County or in, by the lake in Sullivan County and the earlier abuse, as I stated, occurred not only in Washington County, Tennessee but in another [s]tate that has been referred to, other jurisdictions, and that we do not know what they will do in those cases.
[H.R.] was also able to tell us that during the events which would occur at her home on every occasion the [Petitioner], who was her father, would have her watch pornographic movies. She described in detail to us some of those specific movies. The State, various pornographic . . . movies, in fact a whole box full of them, were recovered from the home and turned over to officers and on those tapes are the events or the scenes that [H.R.] would describe.
[H.R.] would state that she did not want to have sexual penetration and this would either be digital, oral or attempted penile penetration either on her or on him in each case; that . . . it began when she was a young child and continuing until the present day, . . . that she would not be able to go out, she would not be able to leave the house, she could not see her friends, she could not have a boyfriend or he would be mean to her family if she refused his sexual advances, that her life would have been, was made very difficult.
She did go to have a physical—the child is, although fully capable of testifying, is highly emotionally traumatized by the events and when we took her for the medical [examination] . . . the doctor, without putting her to sleep, could not conduct a full pelvic exam but what she was able to see was very suspicious and did show some tiny tearing of the hymenal ring. ...

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