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State v. Cox

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 17, 2015

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
BRADLEY COX

February 3, 2015 Session Heard at Memphis [1]

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Henderson County No. 130571 Roy B. Morgan, Judge

David W. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Bradley Cox.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Alcock, Assistant Attorney General; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Angela R. Scott, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Roger A. Page, JJ., joined.

OPINION

CAMILLE R. MCMULLEN, JUDGE

On June 11, 2013, the Defendant was indicted by the Henderson County Grand Jury for three counts of rape of a child for three incidents involving his minor stepdaughter, J.C.[2] A jury trial was held on December 18, 2013, at which the following evidence was presented.

State's Proof. The victim testified that she was born on April 20, 2001, and was five years old when her adopted mother, T.C., married the Defendant in July 2006. At the time of the incidents, the victim was living with T.C., the Defendant, and her three siblings.

The victim testified that the first incident occurred in September or October 2008. She recalled that it was "crisp" outside, the leaves had started changing colors, and she had drawn a leaf at school. One afternoon after the victim arrived home from school, the Defendant called her to his bedroom where he was lying on the bed. He asked her about her day, hugged and kissed her, and pulled her onto the bed. The victim lay on her side while the Defendant lay next to her. He then pulled down her pants and her panties and touched the outside and the inside of her vagina, which she referred to as her "private area, " with his finger. While touching her, the Defendant told her that he loved her. The victim testified that it hurt when the Defendant touched inside and outside of her vagina and that she kept her eyes closed during the incident. She estimated that the incident lasted 45 minutes and recalled that after it ended, she went to the bathroom to check her underwear because she thought she had "messed [her]self." She did not tell anyone about the incident at the time.

The second incident occurred in October 2009. The victim recalled that it was after her birthday, and it was cold outside. The victim was playing on the computer at her house after school one afternoon when the Defendant called her to his bedroom. He was lying on the bed under the covers. He asked her about her day and hugged and kissed her. He then pulled her onto the bed and under the covers. The victim testified that the Defendant was "already naked, " and he pulled off her pants and her panties and "put his penis into [her] vagina." The Defendant kissed the victim and told her that he loved her. The victim testified that it "just sort of felt weird and it kind of hurt" when the Defendant put his penis in her vagina. She estimated that the incident lasted 45 minutes. Afterwards, she went to the bathroom and discovered "clear stuff" on her underwear. She did not tell anyone about the incident.

The third incident occurred on December 27, 2012. The victim testified that it was a couple of days after Christmas, and her grandmother was sick. The victim recalled that her mother, great-grandmother, brothers, and the Defendant were at home with her that evening. Around 11 p.m., after everyone else had gone to bed, the victim was playing with her iPod while the Defendant sat in the loveseat in the living room watching television. The Defendant called the victim to the loveseat to watch television with him. While they were lying together in the loveseat, the Defendant started kissing the victim, pulled down her pants and panties, and pulled down his pants and underwear. He put his finger in her vagina and her buttocks, which "hurt" the victim, and then put his penis into her vagina. The Defendant kissed the victim and told her that he loved her. After the incident, the victim was tired so the Defendant carried her to her bed.

After the victim returned to school, she told two friends about the incidents with the Defendant. A few months later, she disclosed the abuse to her school counselor, Mr. Warren. When she arrived home from school that day, she observed a black vehicle in her driveway and a woman waiting to speak to her. The victim testified that she "knew who it was" because Mr. Warren informed her that he was "going to call people" and she "already knew all about Child Services[.]" The victim told the woman what happened with the Defendant. Thereafter, the Defendant called the victim and asked whether anyone had visited the house. The victim responded, "Yes, the Child Services lady." The Defendant asked the victim what she told Child Services, and she responded, "I told [Child Services] that . . . [y]ou had touched me inappropriately." The Defendant told the victim that she "had to lie" and she "couldn't tell that, and it was going to ruin the family and that [she] just couldn't tell anybody." The victim responded, "I'm sorry, I can't tell a lie. You've raised me not to. I can't." The Defendant continued to call the victim approximately 15 times from the time she arrived home from school until her aunt arrived at the house, repeatedly asking her why she told Child Services about the incidents and urging her to lie. He told the victim to tell Child Services that she had "misunderstood" and that he accidently touched her private area while they were wrestling. When she responded that she was not going to lie, he said, "Please [J.C.], you have to. Please." The victim did not see or speak to the Defendant again until trial.

Subsequently, the victim participated in a forensic interview and received counseling at the Carl Perkins Center for Child Abuse Prevention. She identified the Defendant in court and stated that she was "certain" he was the person that touched her. On cross-examination, the victim agreed that during the last six or eight months of her parents' marriage, T.C. and the Defendant fought a lot, which made her angry. She acknowledged that she told her grandmother that if her parents separated, she wanted to live with the Defendant. She explained that T.C. was "so unbearable" and the two "never really got along[.]" She stated that she was not afraid of the Defendant, and she "thought [she] could handle it." She agreed that she did not tell anyone about the abuse for nearly four years, explaining, "[I]t just never came up in a conversation."

Investigator David Dowdy with the Henderson County Sheriff's Office investigated the victim's case. After watching the victim's forensic interview, Investigator Dowdy set up an interview with the Defendant. When the Defendant voluntarily came to the Sheriff's Office a few days later for the interview, his initial statement to Investigator Dowdy was "something to [the] effect" of "[I am] in trouble." Investigator Dowdy read the Defendant his Miranda rights and informed him of the allegations against him. The Defendant signed a form acknowledging and waiving his rights and agreed to talk with Investigator Dowdy about the allegations. Investigator Dowdy recalled that the Defendant was nervous and upset and that he cried periodically throughout the interview. He initially denied the allegations and claimed that the victim may have been lying due to her parents' marital problems. He later told Investigator Dowdy that the victim is "a truthful girl" and "she doesn't tell lies, " and he stated that he was proud of her for telling the truth. The Defendant admitted to Investigator Dowdy that he occasionally took Ambien and recalled waking up with his hands down the victim's pants, touching her ...


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