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Alvarado v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 18, 2017

Miguel Alvarado, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Clinton Circuit Court Trial Court Cause No. 12C01-1505-FA-477 The Honorable Bradley K. Mohler, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Steven Knecht Vonderheide & Knecht, P.C. Lafayette, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Tyler G. Banks Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          BRADFORD, JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] In 2011, Appellant-Defendant Miguel Alvarado began living with M.L., who was born in 2005, and M.L.'s mother ("Mother"), marrying her the next year. While living with M.L. and Mother until 2013, Alvarado molested M.L. several times, penetrating her orally, vaginally, and anally with his penis. In 2015, the State charged Alvarado with nine counts of Class A felony child molesting.

         [¶2] Prior to trial, Alvarado sought to introduce evidence that M.L. had been molested by Mother's new boyfriend as recently as early 2015, on the basis that this molestation provided M.L. with the knowledge to fabricate her accusations against Alvarado. The trial court denied Alvarado's motion to introduce the evidence in question. After the State's closing argument, Alvarado moved to reopen evidence on the basis that the State had opened the door to the evidence of molestation by Mother's boyfriend. The trial court denied Alvarado's motion, entered judgment of conviction for four counts of child molesting, and sentenced him to an aggregate sentence of ninety years of incarceration. Alvarado contends that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to admit evidence that M.L. was molested by Mother's boyfriend and in denying him leave to reopen evidence. Because we disagree, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] M.L. was born in May of 2005 to Mother and her then-husband. In 2011, Mother and Alvarado had been in a relationship for three years and were living in Frankfort with M.L. and one of Mother's other three daughters. Mother and Alvarado married in June 2012. From 2011 until Alvarado and Mother divorced in 2013, Mother was consistently employed, while Alvarado had periodic employment.

         [¶4] Typically, after returning home from work, Mother would take her other daughter to the grocery store, leaving M.L. alone with Alvarado at home. One day after Mother left, Alvarado entered M.L.'s room as she was playing with her dolls. Alvarado was fully dressed when he entered M.L.'s room but quickly removed his pants and underwear. Alvarado took a belt, bent M.L. over, and spanked her with the belt. When he finished hitting M.L., Alvarado removed his shirt.

         [¶5] When M.L. stood, Alvarado forced her against the wall of her bedroom. M.L. started to scream, but Alvarado covered her mouth with his hand. Alvarado penetrated M.L.'s vagina, anus, and mouth with his penis. On other days, Alvarado performed these sexual acts on M.L. in the same manner every time. In early 2015, M.L., by this time almost ten years old, reported these incidents to her grandmother. Around this time, M.L. made similar allegations involving Mother's boyfriend, i.e., that he had "forced her to perform oral sex as well as vaginal and anal sex." Ex. A. The Kokomo Police Department interviewed the boyfriend on March 27, 2015, and filed an application for an arrest warrant on April 30, 2015.

         [¶6] On May 22, 2015, the State charged Alvarado with nine counts of child molesting as Class A felonies. Before trial, Alvarado moved to introduce evidence that M.L. was molested by Mother's ex-boyfriend as recently as January 2015. On February 13, 2017, the trial court held a confidential hearing on Alvarado's motion. After this hearing, the trial court issued an order denying Alvarado's motion, holding that he would be "precluded from introducing evidence of a subsequent molest and/or allegation of molest[.]" Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 125.

         [¶7] Alvarado's trial was held on February 28, 2017. M.L. told the jury that she referred to her breasts as her "upper private[, ]" her vagina as her "down private[, ]" and her buttocks as her "[b]ack private." Tr. Vol. II 153-54. M.L. referred to a man's penis as the man's "down private[.]" Tr. Vol. II 156-57. M.L. used the same or similar terms when describing Alvarado's molestation of her, testifying that Alvarado touched her with his "down private" in her mouth, "down private[, ]" and her "back down private[.]" Tr. Vol. II pp. 170-71. M.L. testified that Alvarado hurt her when his "down private" went inside of her "down private" and that she knew it was inside her body "[c]ause [she] could feel it." Tr. Vol. II pp. 178-79. On cross-examination, M.L., then in the sixth grade, testified that she had learned about good and bad touches in school but could not remember when.

         [¶8] After M.L. finished testifying, Alvarado again raised the rape-shield issue and proffered the arrest warrant application for Mother's boyfriend, which contained the allegation that he had forced M.L. into oral, vaginal, and anal sex. The warrant application was admitted for purposes of an offer of proof as Exhibit A, and also noted: "[M.L.] also alleged that her step father [sic], Miguel Avarado [sic] molested her in the same ...

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