from the Hamilton Superior Court Cause No. 29D01-1703-F1-2048
The Honorable Steven R. Nation, Judge
Attorneys for Appellant Jack Kenney Stacy R. Uliana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Tiffany A. McCoy Deputy Attorney General
of the Case
Nathaniel Hale appeals his convictions for five counts of
child molesting, as Level 1 felonies, following a jury
trial. Hale presents the following issues for our
1. Whether the State presented sufficient evidence to support
2. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
3. Whether his sentence is inappropriate in light of the
nature of the offenses and his character.
and Procedural History
In 2016, Hale became engaged to S.F. Hale moved into
S.F.'s home, where she lived with her then-ten-year-old
daughter, K.F. One night in September, Hale went into
K.F.'s bedroom while she was sleeping. K.F. heard him
enter, but she pretended to be asleep. Hale reached under the
blanket on K.F.'s bed and put his hand inside K.F.'s
pajama pants and underwear. Hale moved his hand and fingers
"up and down or in circular motions" on her
"private parts," which she later explained referred
to her "vagina," and that it "hurt [K.F.] a
lot." Tr. Vol. 2 at 207-08. This incident lasted
approximately three to six minutes before Hale left the
bedroom. About a week later, Hale entered K.F.'s bedroom
again while she was sleeping, and he used his fingers to go
"up or down or [in] circular motions" on her
vagina. Id. at 210.
A week or so after that incident, Hale again entered
K.F.'s bedroom while she was sleeping, and he touched her
"on [her] private parts" under her underwear
"doing the same motions" as before. Id. at
212. Hale also took K.F.'s hand and put her hand on his
penis "and made [her] hand go up and down with his
hand." Id. After approximately ten minutes,
Hale left K.F.'s bedroom.
One night, K.F. fell asleep on a couch in the living room.
Hale sat down on the couch next to her and touched K.F.'s
vagina under her clothing, and he put his hand on her hand
and made her hand move up and down on his penis. While Hale
was touching K.F., he asked her whether it felt good and
whether she wanted to see his penis. K.F. pretended to be
asleep, but she eventually got up and told Hale that she had
to go to the bathroom. K.F.'s hands felt wet after
touching Hale's penis, so she washed them.
On another occasion in early January 2017, K.F. asked Hale to
play a game, and the two were sitting on Hale's bed in
his bedroom. K.F. was sitting with her legs crossed in front
of her when Hale began moving his fingers up and down her
leg. Hale eventually began touching K.F.'s "private
parts on the outside of [her] pants," and K.F. got off
of the bed to "get away from that." Id. at
218. They stopped playing the game, and K.F. sat down again
on the bed. K.F. said she was tired, and she lay down on the
bed. At that point, Hale put his hands inside K.F.'s
pants and touched her vagina with "up and down" and
"circular" motions, and he made her touch his
penis. Id. at 219. After several minutes, Hale left
the bedroom, and K.F. fell asleep.
One day or so later, when K.F. came home from school, S.F.
told her that she and Hale were "taking a break"
from their engagement and that Hale "had left"
their house for an indefinite period of time. Id. at
220. K.F. felt like it "was a good time" to tell
her mother about what Hale had done to her over the past
several months. Id. After hearing about the
molestations, S.F. contacted law enforcement, and S.F. and
K.F. went to stay at K.F.'s grandparents' house. On
January 11, K.F. met with a forensic interviewer to discuss
The State charged Hale with seven counts of child molesting,
five as Level 1 felonies and two as Level 4 felonies. At
trial, then-twelve-year-old K.F. described each of the
molestations, and a portion of her videorecorded forensic
interview was played for the jury. The jury found Hale guilty
as charged. The trial court entered judgment of conviction
accordingly and sentenced Hale to thirty years for each Level
1 felony conviction (Counts 1-5) and six years for each Level
4 felony conviction (Counts 6 and 7). And the court ordered
• Counts 1, 2, and 3 shall be served concurrently but
consecutive to Counts 4 and 5, and to Counts 6 and 7.
• Counts 4 and 5 shall be served concurrently but
consecutive to Counts 1 through 3, and to Counts 6 and 7.
• Counts 6 and 7 shall be served [concurrently but]
consecutive to Counts l through 3, and to Counts 4 and 5.
the trial court imposed an aggregate term of sixty-six years.
This appeal ensued.
One: Sufficiency of the Evidence
When reviewing a claim of insufficient evidence to sustain a
conviction, we consider only the probative evidence and
reasonable inferences supporting the verdict. Meehan v.
State, 7 N.E.3d 255, 257 (Ind. 2014).
"It is the fact-finder's role, not that of appellate
courts, to assess witness credibility and weigh the evidence
to determine whether it is sufficient to support a
conviction. Appellate courts affirm the conviction unless no
reasonable fact-finder could find the elements of the crime
proven beyond a reasonable doubt. It is therefore not
necessary that the evidence overcome every reasonable
hypothesis of innocence. [T]he evidence is sufficient if an
inference may reasonably be drawn from it to support the
Id. (quoting Drane v. State, 867 N.E.2d
144, 146-47 (Ind. 2007)). Further, it is well settled that
the testimony of a sole child witness is sufficient to
sustain a conviction for molestation. Hoglund v.
State, 962 N.E.2d 1230, 1238 (Ind. 2012).
To prove the five counts of child molesting, as Level 1
felonies, as charged, the State was required to show that on
five occasions Hale, who was at least twenty-one years old,
performed "other sexual conduct" with K.F., who was
under the age of fourteen. Ind. Code § 35-42-4-3(a)(1)
(2018). To prove "other sexual conduct" as charged
here, the State was required to show that Hale used his hand
or finger to penetrate the sex organ of K.F. I.C. §
35-31.5-2-221.5. Our Supreme Court recently held that
"proof of the slightest penetration of the sex organ,
including penetration of the external genitalia, is
sufficient to demonstrate a person performed other sexual
conduct with a child." Boggs v. State, 104
N.E.3d 1287, 1289 (Ind. 2018) (emphasis added).
Hale contends that the State presented insufficient evidence
to prove that his hand or finger penetrated the sex organ of
K.F. In particular, Hale maintains that the evidence is
insufficient to show penetration because: K.F., who was
twelve years old at the time of trial, "had the
capability of describing any penetration by Hale's
fingers or hand if it had occurred, but she did not";
"the record is devoid of any medical or physical
evidence of penetration"; and, while K.F. described pain
after the molestations, she did not attribute that pain to
penetration of her genitalia. Appellant's Br. at 18. Hale
acknowledges that child witnesses are not required to give a
detailed anatomical description of penetration, but he
asserts that "K.F.'s vague and equivocal testimony
here fell far short of meeting the element of
penetration[.]" Id. at 19. We cannot agree.
At trial, K.F. testified in relevant part as follows:
Q: Okay. [During the first incident, ] was [Hale's] hand
inside your pants or inside your underwear, or both?
A: Both. It was inside both.
Q: Okay. And what did you feel?
A: I felt that [Hale's] hand was moving and like, almost
like up and down or like circular motions.
Q: And where was it moving up and down or in circular
A: My private parts.
Q: Is there another word that you use for your ...