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State v. Mosley

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

August 22, 2017


         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County Honorable Mark T. Stoll Judge.


          ANGELA T. QUIGLESS, J.

         Chad Allan Mosley ("Mosley") appeals from a judgment convicting him of first-degree statutory sodomy and first-degree child molestation following a jury trial. On appeal, Mosley argues the court erred in admitting expert testimony from two witnesses concerning grooming and manipulation of victims by sexual perpetrators. We affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Mosley was charged with one count of first-degree statutory sodomy, in violation of Section 566.062, [1] and one count of first-degree child molestation, in violation of Section 566.067, for having deviate sexual intercourse with Victim, [2] who was less than twelve years old, by inserting his finger into her vagina and placing her hand on his penis.

         Mosley lived down the road from Victim, who lived in a trailer with her Father, Mother, and two younger siblings. Victim was born in December of 2000. Between 2010 and 2012, Mosley developed a relationship with Victim's family. Mosley became friends with Victim's Father. They would often watch movies together and help each other with projects. On several occasions, Mosley helped Father repair cars and work on other odd jobs around the house. Mosley also helped Father financially on a few occasions. When Mother and Father separated for a few months, Mosley took the children to and from the bus stop for school and helped watch the children while Father was at work. Mosley often came over to spend time with the family.

         Mosley also developed relationships with Victim and her siblings. It was not unusual for Mosley to spend time alone with the children while no other adults were present. The children often visited Mosley's home, where they would play together in the woods, swing on Mosley's tire rope swing, go swimming, and play various other games. Mosley occasionally took the children to the movies, and often gave the children candy, small amounts of money, and other small gifts. At one point. Mosley asked Father if he could give Victim a cell phone. Father said no, but Mosley gave Victim an unactivated smart phone anyway.

         Around the summer of 2012, when Victim was less than twelve years old, Mosley began sexually abusing Victim. The first incident occurred when Victim and Mosley were walking back to Mosley's home after playing in the woods. While giving Victim a piggy back ride, Mosley put his hands on her buttocks. When they returned to Mosley's home, they played a game called "jail." Victim "arrested" Mosley, who sat on the couch on Victim's lap with his hands behind his back. Mosley reached back, put his hand down Victim's pants, and touched the skin of her vagina. Mosley then put his finger inside Victim's vagina. Victim stated that Mosley would put his fingers inside her vagina almost every time she went to Mosley's home.

         Another incident of abuse occurred in the pool. While they were swimming, Mosley held Victim down, pulled down her swimsuit bottom, put his head under the water, and attempted to perform oral sex on Victim. Victim pushed Mosley's head away and pulled her swimsuit back up. Later, while they were still swimming, Mosley again held Victim down, put her hands behind her back and inside his pants, forcing her to touch his penis.

         Victim first disclosed the sexual abuse to a family friend, and then to Mother. Mother told Father and then called the police. A police officer came to the home, interviewed Victim, and reported the abuse. Kelli Hodge ("Ms. Hodge"), a child abuse and neglect investigator, met with Victim and her family and referred the case to the Child Advocacy Center (the "CAC"). Victim was interviewed by Christi Leslie ("Ms. Leslie"), a forensic interviewer from the CAC. In the interview, Victim described the above incidents of sexual abuse involving Mosley. The CAC interview was recorded on video.

         At trial, the State played the video of the CAC interview to the jury. The State also presented testimony from Victim, Father, Mother, the police officer who first met with Victim, Ms. Hodge, and Ms. Leslie. Victim's testimony at trial regarding the sexual abuse was consistent with the testimony from the police officer as well as her statements during the CAC interview. Mosley does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. Mosley only contests the admissibility of certain expert testimony from Ms. Leslie and Ms. Hodge.

         Ms. Leslie testified that she was a trained forensic interviewer for the CAC with extensive experience interviewing children in approximately 550 cases. Ms. Leslie summarized her extensive training, including "the dynamics of children, such as recover [sic] stages, the disclosure, the process of disclosure, as well as grooming and manipulation techniques by a perpetrator, the way children respond, how they survive, the coping mechanisms, the various emotions of children going from no emotions to extreme emotions." After explaining her qualifications, Ms. Leslie described her interactions with Victim during the CAC interview and explained, based on her experience and training, the concept of grooming and manipulation. Ms. Leslie testified that "grooming" is when a sexual perpetrator does things for the victim to "let[] them feel that it's okay for what they're doing to that child, providing them with candy or taking them shopping, getting them comfortable in that environment to where the child doesn't believe anything is wrong with what that perpetrator is doing." Ms. Leslie also testified that sometimes this is "something that they would do to the entire family."

         Defense counsel objected to Ms. Leslie's testimony on the grounds that she was not an expert qualified to discuss the subject of grooming and manipulation because she was "not a child psychologist or any type of expert in criminal psychology" and therefore the testimony was "speculative" and "not appropriate." The trial court overruled the objection and allowed the testimony.

         Ms. Hodge testified that she was a child abuse and neglect investigator for the Children's Division with nearly ten years of experience investigating cases of child abuse and neglect, including between 1, 500 and 2, 000 cases of child abuse and 500 to 600 cases involving sexual abuse. Ms. Hodge testified about her interactions with Victim and her family while investigating the case. Ms. Hodge also testified regarding "grooming and manipulation" of victims by sexual perpetrators. Ms. Hodge testified that, "[t]ypically, the alleged perpetrator, I found in my training and experience, will give gifts to the alleged victim, even go as far as to ...

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