This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).

 

 

STATE OF MINNESOTA

IN COURT OF APPEALS

C4-03-120

 

 

In the Matter of the Welfare of: R.R.R., Child.

 

 

Filed August 26, 2003

Affirmed

Robert H. Schumacher, Judge

 

Ramsey County District Court

File No. J702553085

 

 

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Leslie J. Rosenberg, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant child)

 

Mike Hatch, Attorney General, 1800 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and

 

Susan Gaertner, Ramsey County Attorney, Jill E. Fedje, Assistant County Attorney, 50 West Kellogg Boulevard, Suite 315, St. Paul, MN 55102 (for respondent State of Minnesota)

 

 

            Considered and decided by Schumacher, Presiding Judge, Willis, Judge, and Parker, Judge.*


U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N

ROBERT H. SCHUMACHER, Judge

Appellant R.R.R. challenges his adjudication of delinquency for committing third-degree criminal sexual conduct, contending the evidence was insufficient to show that appellant knew or had reason to know that the 13-year old girl was mentally impaired.  We affirm. 

FACTS

On May 25, 2002, K.L.C., a 13-year-old mentally impaired girl, was at the Scheffer Recreation Center with other children cleaning up trash in the neighborhood.  Two boys, C.M. and appellant, approached K.L.C. and asked her to leave with them.  K.L.C. followed the boys to an alley about three blocks from the recreation center.  K.L.C. performed oral sex on both C.M. and appellant.  When K.L.C. got home, she told her mother about the incident.  The mother took K.L.C. to the Midwest Children's Resource Center.  While there, K.L.C. talked with a registered nurse who had specialized training in interviewing and evaluating child abuse victims.  During the interview, K.L.C. told the nurse that the boys put their penises in her mouth.

Appellant was charged with one count of engaging in penetration by use of force and coercion and one count of engaging in penetration with a mentally impaired person.  At the adjudicatory hearing, a special education teacher at K.L.C.'s school testified about the severity of K.L.C.'s mental impairment.  Both K.L.C. and appellant took the witness stand and testified about the events that led up to the sexual penetration.  Following the adjudicatory hearing, the district court ruled that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant used force or coercion to engage in sexual penetration with K.L.C.   But the district court determined that overwhelming evidence existed showing appellant knew or had reason to know K.L.C. was mentally impaired.

D E C I S I O N

            On appeal from a determination that the elements of a delinquency petition have been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, "an appellate court is limited to ascertaining whether, given the facts and legitimate inferences, a factfinder could reasonably make that determination."  In re Welfare of S.M.J., 556 N.W.2d 4, 6 (Minn. App. 1996) (citation omitted). We view the record in the light most favorable to the determination.  Id.  And our analysis must assume that the factfinder believed the state's witnesses and rejected contradictory evidence.  In re Welfare of S.A.M., 570 N.W.2d 162, 167 (Minn. App. 1997).

It is a crime for a person to engage in sexual penetration with another when "the actor knows or has reason to know that the complainant is mentally impaired, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless."  Minn. Stat. § 609.344, subd. 1(d) (2002).  The state was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) appellant sexually penetrated K.L.C.; (2) K.L.C. is mentally impaired; and (3) appellant knew or had reason to know that K.L.C. was mentally impaired.  Appellant claims that the evidence presented at the adjudicatory hearing was insufficient to show that he knew or had reason to know about K.L.C.'s mental impairment.  We disagree.

Based on the severity of K.L.C.'s mental impairment, appellant had reason to know that K.L.C. was mentally impaired.  The testimony at trial established that K.L.C. has an I.Q. of 46.  Moreover, K.L.C. frequently misspells her own name, cannot count to 100, and cannot dial her own phone number.  In addition, the special education teacher at K.L.C.'s school discussed the results of a skill assessment test that measured K.L.C.'s ability to function in a school environment.  When compared to her same-age peers who are not disabled, K.L.C. scored in the 0.1 percentile. 

But while appellant concedes that the evidence sufficiently established that K.L.C. is mentally impaired, appellant contends that he did not know of the mental impairment and that there was no reasonable way for him to know that K.L.C. was mentally impaired.  Appellant correctly states that he was not aware of the results of K.L.C.'s I.Q. test or her skill assessment test when the sexual penetration occurred.  And even though appellant went to school with K.L.C., he was not in any of her classes and did not know that she was in special education classes. 

But the district court's determination that appellant knew or had reason to know of K.L.C.'s mental impairment is not based solely on K.L.C.'s I.Q. or skill assessment test scores.  The interaction appellant had with K.L.C. prior to the sexual penetration provided him with ample reason to know of K.L.C.'s mental impairment.  A witness testified that it would have taken K.L.C. approximately 15 minutes to get from the recreation center to the area where the penetration occurred.   The same witness testified that K.L.C. walks with a slow, tipsy gait.  Appellant even testified that during the walk, he and C.M. had to stop and wait for K.L.C. to catch up. 

Furthermore, appellant admitted that he talked to K.L.C. before the sexual penetration occurred.  And the registered nurse who interviewed and evaluated K.L.C. at the Midwest Children's Resource Center testified that when she talked with K.L.C., she could tell that K.L.C. was not the typical 13-year-old girl because K.L.C. "clearly had some sort of mental deficit."  Moreover, the special education teacher testified that K.L.C. is not able to mask or hide her mental impairment.  The teacher testified that even the other children in K.L.C.'s special education class looked down upon K.L.C. because they thought she functioned at a lower level.  Appellant, after talking and walking with K.L.C. on the day the sexual penetration occurred, either knew or had reason to know of K.L.C.'s mental impairment.

Finally, the district court had the opportunity to gauge the demeanor of both appellant and K.L.C. on the witness stand.  The court noted K.L.C.'s inability to focus and found that "her cognitive defects were obvious to the most inattentive individual in the courtroom."  An appellate court must defer to credibility determinations made by the district court.  Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203, 210 (Minn. 1988).  Here, the district court observed both appellant and K.L.C. on the witness stand and determined that appellant knew or had reason to know of K.L.C.'s mental impairment. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the determination, the evidence is sufficient to support the adjudication. 

Affirmed.



            * Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.