Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs June 19, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County No. 2017-CR-123
William R. Goodman, III, Judge
trial court convicted Defendant, Dominic Rodriguez,
one count of sexual battery following a bench trial. On
appeal, Defendant argues that this court should reweigh the
evidence because the State presented insufficient evidence
for a rational juror to have found Defendant guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt. After a thorough review of the facts and
applicable case law, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
E. Nell, District Public Defender (on appeal), and Crystal
Meyers, Assistant District Public Defender (at trial), for
the appellant, Dominic Rodriguez.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee, and John Carney, District
Attorney General; Helen Young, Assistant District Attorney.
L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which John Everett Williams, P.J., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.,
L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE
Factual and Procedural Background
appeal arises out of Defendant's unlawful sexual contact
with the victim, D.C. In January 2017, the Montgomery County
Grand Jury indicted Defendant on one count of sexual battery.
Defendant waived his right to trial by jury and proceeded to
a bench trial in May 2018.
testified that she met Defendant for the first time on the
day of the offense, October 9, 2016, when she attended church
at Central Chapel Methodist Church in Woodlawn, Tennessee.
Her church's pastor introduced Defendant as a visitor to
the church and asked the congregation to make him feel
welcome. After the service ended, D.C. testified that
Defendant was mingling with members of the congregation near
the pulpit. D.C. approached Defendant and extended her hand
to welcome him. Defendant grabbed D.C.'s hand, turned it
over, and touched it to his genital area. He then put his
other hand on her back to hold her in place and began rubbing
her hand on his genital area. D.C. testified that Defendant
held her in that position for between thirty seconds and one
minute and that she could not get away. D.C. could not recall
if Defendant was aroused at the time of the offense, but she
testified that she thought Defendant's actions were
sexual in nature. She also stated, "It couldn't have
been an accident. He knew what he was doing." On
cross-examination, D.C. testified that she was too shocked to
tell Defendant to stop or to ask for help.
her encounter with Defendant, D.C. went out for dinner with
her husband, where she told him about the encounter. When
they arrived at home after dinner, D.C. and her husband
searched for Defendant online and discovered that he is a
registered sex offender. D.C. subsequently called the police to
report the offense that occurred in the church.
testified that he recalled hugging D.C. on the day of the
offense but that he did not recall anyone touching his
genital area. He testified that he had a girlfriend at the
time of the offense and that he "wouldn't dare"
intentionally force anybody to touch his genital area. He
stated that if the offense did occur as D.C. alleged, it was
an accident. He testified that if he had been aware that he
was accidentally forcing D.C. to touch him, he would have
immediately pulled away and apologized. On cross-examination,
however, Defendant explained that he thought he had hugged a
different woman. On redirect, he explained that he has a
tendency to hug strangers but that he knows he should not; he
did not elaborate on this point. He further testified that he
had been in prison previously for sexual crimes involving a