This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1998).




State of Minnesota,



Donald Lemar Haukom,


Filed March 2, 1999


Shumaker, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 96106455

Michael A. Hatch, Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101; and

Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Gayle C. Hendley, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)

Harlan Goulett, Allan H. Caplan & Associates, 525 Lumber Exchange, 10 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Shumaker, Judge, and Foley, Judge.[*]



Appellant Donald Lemar Haukom challenges the trial court's determination that he was in such a "position of authority" over a minor when he engaged in sexual contact with her as to constitute a violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.345, subd. 1(e) (1996), fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. We affirm.


Sixteen-year-old N.L.M and appellant's daughter, Danielle, were close friends. N.L.M. visited frequently in appellant's home and became so familiar to appellant and his family that she rarely knocked before entering the home. She liked, trusted, respected and looked up to appellant.

One day N.L.M. came to appellant's home to visit Danielle. Appellant was alone and he invited N.L.M. to wait for Danielle to return. During the wait, appellant rubbed N.L.M.'s body, touching her bare breasts. He had N.L.M. rub his chest while he masturbated.

Appellant was eventually charged with criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree, a crime requiring proof that the actor was in a position of authority over the victim. He waived a jury trial and the matter was tried to the court. Appellant did not deny the alleged sexual contact with N.L.M. The issue in dispute was whether or not he was in a position of authority over N.L.M. at the time of the contact.

The trial court found that, "[a]s the only adult present in his own home," appellant "became responsible for the supervision of N.L.M.," and that he used his position of authority to "cause or induce N.L.M. to submit to the sexual conduct * * *." The trial court found him guilty as charged. He appealed, arguing that the facts are insufficient as a matter of law to establish that he was in a position of authority over N.L.M.


In reviewing a claim of insufficiency of the evidence, this court must ascertain whether the trier of fact could reasonably find the defendant guilty on the evidence received at trial and on the legitimate inferences that could be drawn from that evidence. State v. Johnson, 568 N.W.2d 426, 435 (Minn. 1997). This court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and assume that the fact-finder believed the state's witnesses and disbelieved any evidence to the contrary. State v. Webb, 440 N.W.2d 426, 430 (Minn. 1989). The interpretation of a statute, however, is a question of law subject to de novo review on appeal. State v. Lindholm, 557 N.W.2d 601, 602 (Minn. App. 1996), review denied (Minn. Feb. 26, 1997).

The statute defines "position of authority" as follows:

"Position of authority" includes but is not limited to any person who is a parent or acting in the place of a parent and * * *, or a person who is charged with any duty or responsibility for the health, welfare, or supervision of a child, either independently or through another, no matter how brief, at the time of the act.

Minn. Stat. § 609.341, subd. 10 (1996) (emphasis added).

Appellant contends that a person cannot be in a position of authority unless he is (1) a long-term caretaker of the child; (2) a person carrying out a short-term delegated caretaking duty; or (3) actually has asserted authority by threat, coercion or otherwise.

None of the cases cited by appellant supports his three-part re-definition of "position of authority." In State v. Hall, 406 N.W.2d 503, 505-06 (Minn. 1987), the supreme court summarily rejected the argument that defendant (who the facts showed employed the victim as a regular babysitter) was not in a "position of authority." In State v. Willette, 421 N.W.2d 342, 346 (Minn. App. 1988), review denied (Minn. May 16, 1988), this court considered the "position of authority" question, although in the context of a marital privilege issue, and applied the definition in Minn. Stat. § 609.341, subd. 10. This court, while not deciding the issue, stated it had "difficulty imagining" that the defendant was not in a "position of authority" over an unrelated seven-year-old child residing in his home. Id. Neither Hall nor Willette attempts to construe the "position of authority" definition in subdivision 10, nor does either employ the three-part classification suggested by appellant.

The statutory definition is broad, flexible and nonexclusive. The trial court construed the statute to apply to a person in appellant's circumstances, namely, an adult male who is home alone and who invites an unrelated teenaged female friend of his daughter to remain with him in the home until the daughter arrives. We cannot say that such application was error.

It is not appellant's mere presence at the same general location as N.L.M. that is determinative. The specific location is appellant's own home, a place within his exclusive control, a place in which children likely would view him as the parent in charge, a place that children might see as a safe harbor. Perhaps appellant's responsibility toward N.L.M. was not extensive, but it reasonably would include at least a minimum degree of protection of N.L.M.'s health and welfare. That limited responsibility nevertheless is sufficient to place appellant within the broad definition of "position of authority."


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