Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CHRISTIAN COUNTY Honorable Jennifer
R. Growcock, Judge
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., J.
Edward Hitchcock ("Hitchcock") appeals his
convictions of five counts of forcible sodomy, six counts of
endangering the welfare of a child, and two counts of
forcible rape. Hitchcock presents four points on appeal:
points one and two challenge the sufficiency of the evidence;
point three challenges the trial court's admission of
uncharged misconduct; and point four challenges the admission
of testimony relating to substantiation by the Children's
Division of the Department of Social Services ("the
Children's Division") of allegations against
Hitchcock. Finding no merit to these points, we affirm the
judgment of the trial court.
and Procedural Background
forth the evidence in the light most favorable to
Hitchcock's convictions. See State v. McKinney,
253 S.W.3d 110, 113 (Mo.App. W.D. 2008). We set out other
information as necessary for context.
four, Victim and her two brothers moved from an Indian
reservation in South Dakota to Springfield, Missouri, to live
with Hitchcock and his wife. They subsequently moved to a
house on four acres in Ozark, Missouri. Hitchcock physically,
sexually, and emotionally abused Victim from 2006 (at which
time Victim was eight years old) until 2013. Victim told her
brothers about the sexual abuse, but they "didn't
mind anything of it." Victim then disclosed the abuse to
Hitchcock's wife, who "slapped [Victim] in the face
and called [Victim] a liar and that [Hitchcock] couldn't
do anything like that[.]"
also disclosed the abuse to "a couple of [her]
friends." One of these friends encouraged her to talk to
that friend's mother, or the school counselor. Victim
refused, and told the friend not to tell anyone as Hitchcock
"told [her] not to tell anybody[, ]" and threatened
to "send us kids back to the Res[ervation] if [Victim]
was to tell anybody what he was doing." Victim's
friend asked her mother for advice, who recommended Victim
talk to the school counselor. Victim later disclosed some of
the abuse to her friend's mother.
law enforcement and representatives from the Children's
Division came to Victim's home on several occasions.
Children's Division staff would "interview"
Victim: i.e., with Victim and Hitchcock in the same
room, announce the source and the content of the abuse report
to which they were responding, and Victim would deny the
abuse. Victim also did not disclose Hitchcock's abuse to
law enforcement when they stopped by the house, or to school
officials when asked, weighing that "with how rough
[Hitchcock] was being, [Victim] didn't want to push
Children's Division or law enforcement would leave the
house, Hitchcock and the rest of the family would accost and
blame Victim, and insist that she "lie" to prevent
2014, Victim began acting out and having problems with drugs
and stealing medication. A school resource officer referred
Victim to the Juvenile Office in April 2014, when allegations
surfaced that Victim brought controlled substances to her
school and "was distributing those to other
students." The record reflects that Victim was charged
with a class C felony in connection with this allegation, and
that Victim "stipulated to those charges and was placed
on formal probation." As a special condition of
probation, Victim was to "attend counseling";
obtain "an assessment at CSTAR"; and "follow any recommendations"
juvenile officer assigned to Victim's case had a
distinctive "first impression . . . that's carried
with me, " in that he observed Victim with Hitchcock in
the hallway, and "she was very much enclosed on herself,
eyes to the floor, shoulders in, curled up, which was unusual
in my experience with the kids I dealt with." As the
juvenile officer went through Victim's probation
requirements, Victim voiced no objections. By contrast,
Hitchcock strongly resisted "the counseling requirement
and the CSTAR requirement, " and
"consistently" tried to answer for Victim. This
pattern continued at future meetings-Hitchcock would try to
answer for Victim "across the board[.]" The
juvenile officer referred Victim to a counselor (to which
Hitchcock objected, approximately a month after counseling
began, "right in the middle of . . . [the] necessary
began seeing the counselor in May 2014. The counselor
observed Victim and Hitchcock in the waiting room at her
first appointment-Victim was sitting in a "fetal
position[, ]" turned away from Hitchcock. During the
session, Victim could not make eye contact, and barely spoke
above a whisper. When Victim had difficulty responding,
Hitchcock would "hit her . . . on her arm[, ]"
startling Victim and making her jump. Victim's responses
to a subsequent depression assessment reflected a "very
severe" depression score. Meanwhile, Hitchcock's
attitude throughout his attendance at these sessions was
"sarcastic [and] dismissive."
counselor made a hotline call based on a disclosure Victim
made in one of her sessions. At the following session,
Hitchcock "was very upset, " and (in front of
Victim) demanded the counselor "tell him if [counselor]
hotlined and who hotlined and what was said and if
[counselor] could be trusted." Hitchcock was
"[c]onfrontational, sitting forward, his finger
pointing, yelling, [and] interrogating."
October 29, 2014, Hitchcock "confront[ed] a
developmentally delayed client who was waiting in
[counselor's] reception room[.]" Counselor observed
this and intervened. Hitchcock "got very upset, was
yelling, stomping his feet, shaking his arms, wagging his
head, telling [counselor] he could say whatever he wanted
wherever he wanted[.]" Counselor eventually persuaded
Hitchcock to leave.
another session, counselor observed a large and untreated
wound to the inside of Victim's arm. It appeared to be a
severe burn-counselor could see "muscle and
tendon[.]" Victim asked counselor if she "had
Band-Aids, " and counselor provided the first-aid kit in
her office. Counselor reported this to Victim's juvenile
March 2015, Victim's juvenile officer and representatives
from Children's Division responded to a hotline call
(reflecting physical and sexual abuse) and interviewed Victim
at her school. Victim made no disclosures as she was fearful
that the only result "would just be more hotline"
calls. Victim called Hitchcock as he had directed her to do
if she was ever questioned without him. Hitchcock arrived at
the school-Victim's juvenile officer and the school's
resource officer heard Hitchcock's voice "from the
lobby outside of the office" in which they were
seated. Hitchcock was "loud" and "demanding,
" insisting on an explanation as to why they "were
talking to [Victim] without him present."
April 2015, Victim's probation was revoked due to another
incident at school. Victim was given an indeterminate
sentence and committed to the Division of Youth
Services. Victim was then placed in
Delmina Woods, a group home for girls. Victim participated
satisfactorily in the programs at that facility, and
disclosed some of her abuse. Victim consented to a forensic
interview at CAC, which was held on July 28, 2015. Based on
the results of the interview, it was determined that it would
be unsafe for Victim to return home, and that Victim would
stay at Delmina Woods.
September 4, 2015, Victim was released from Delmina Woods,
but remained in "aftercare" until October 26, 2015,
when she was released by the Division of Youth Services.
Victim was placed in a foster home, and never returned to
live with Hitchcock. Victim's juvenile officer met with
her thereafter, and observed that she was substantially more
talkative, upbeat, and made much better eye contact.
was charged, by third amended information, with five counts
of forcible sodomy (Counts I, III, XII, XV, and XVIII),
pursuant to section 566.060; or in the alternative, five counts of
statutory sodomy in the first degree (Counts II, IV, XIII,
XVI, and XIX), pursuant to section 566.062; six counts of the
class C felony of endangering the welfare of a child (Counts
V, VIII, XI, XIV, XVII, and XX), pursuant to section 568.045;
two counts of forcible rape (Counts VI and IX), pursuant to
section 566.030; or in the alternative, two counts of
statutory rape (Counts VII and X), pursuant to section
trial commenced on June 4, 2018. Victim testified during the
State's case in chief, at which time the following
[Prosecutor:] Were there times you ever saw [Hitchcock] hurt
[Prosecutor:] Can you tell me about one of those times?
[Defense]: Judge, may we approach?
BY THE COURT: Yes.
(the following proceedings were held at the bench:)
[Defense]: Judge, we just want to renew our objection as to
prior bad acts at this point. This is where I'm assuming
she's getting into other incidents of abuse; not just
towards her, but towards other people, and so we are going to
renew our objection that this is more prejudicial than
probative. It's one thing to talk about what happened to
her and why she is, but to talk about potential evidence,
it's -- my clients [sic] aren't charged with any
other assault versus anybody else . . . . Especially if its
towards [Hitchcock's first wife], we have -- she's
not here to even testify to confirm or deny any of the
allegations that may be made, and so we want to renew our
objection and make that a continuing objection to any what
would be considered prior bad acts.
BY THE COURT: [Prosecutor]?
[Prosecutor]: And, Your Honor, so this goes to, again, a
reason for a delay in disclosure. It also goes to forcible
compulsion. I have asked her specifically if she witnessed
him hurt somebody else. I'm not asking her things that
she heard about, but things that she personally observed that
would have been something that she took into consideration in
making a determination whether to disclose or not.
BY THE COURT: All right, thank you. The Court did previously
look at all the cases and will overrule your objection at
this time. I have looked at the cases and I have weighed the
probative versus prejudicial value.
[Defense]: And can we show that as a continuing objection to
any of this type of conduct as to any other violence or
BY THE COURT: Yes.
[Defense]: Thank you.
(the proceedings returned to open court)
[Prosecutor:] So again, [Victim], was there ever a time that
you saw the defendant hurt someone else?
[Prosecutor:] Can you tell me about one of those times?
[Victim:] I have seen him throw things at my mom, I've
seen him be mean to my older brother, I've seen him smash
a can, like a trashcan, over my little brother's head.
in the State's case in chief, during the testimony of
Fallon Givans (a service coordinator with the Division of
Youth Services) the following colloquy occurred:
[Prosecutor:] Okay. Was there any discussion about the fact
that a hotline call had been ...