Bruce A. SORENSON, Appellant-Defendant,
STATE of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Rush Circuit Court, The Honorable David E. Northam,
Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 70C01-1602-FA-134
for Appellant: Cara Schaefer Wieneke, Wieneke Law Office,
LLC, Brooklyn, Indiana
for Appellee: Curtis T. Hill, Jr., Attorney General of
Indiana, Evan Matthew Comer, Deputy Attorney General,
Statement of the Case
[¶ 1] Bruce A. Sorenson appeals one of his
fourteen convictions and his 590-year aggregate sentence
after he sexually assaulted two of his daughters nearly every
day from the time they were in diapers to their mid-teens and
also sexually assaulted one of their childhood friends. He
raises the following three issues for our review:
1. Whether the State presented sufficient evidence to show
that Sorenson committed sexual misconduct with a minor, as
alleged in Count 11.
2. Whether the trial court erred when it determined that
Sorenson was a credit-restricted felon and, as such, that he
can earn only one day of good-time credit for every six days
3. Whether his 590-year sentence is inappropriate in light of
the nature of the offenses and his character.
[¶ 2] We reverse Sorensons conviction under
Count 11, the twenty-year sentence that was imposed on Count
11, and the trial courts application of the incorrect
credit-time statutes against all of Sorensons sentences
except his sentence on Count 3. As for the balance of
Sorensons sentence, 570 years executed, we cannot say that
it is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses
and Sorensons character.
Facts and Procedural History
[¶ 3] When he was twenty-seven years old in
March of 1995, Sorenson became the father of his first
daughter, T.S. Eighteen months later, in September of 1996,
he became the father of his second daughter, J.S. Sorenson,
the two daughters, and the rest of the family lived in
Rushville, initially on First Street but later, in the early
2000s, they moved to Third Street.
[¶ 4] When T.S. "was in diapers,"
she would later recall, Sorenson "th[rew] off" her
diaper in her "parents bedroom" at the First
Street house. Tr. Vol. 3 at 89-90. T.S. "remember[e]d it
very vividly": the diaper "smacked against the wall
between the dresser and the closet, and then [Sorenson]
molested [her]" by inserting his penis into her anus.
Id. at 91. "[T]here [we]re other times"
that she also remembered in that bedroom, such as a time when
he "would have [her] on his waterbed and ... they had a
headboard that had a mirror and ... cubbies ... and if [she]
ever picked [her] head up he would shove [her] head back down
in the pillow" because "he obviously didnt want
[her] to see" that he was "[h]aving sex with [her]
[¶ 5] Sorenson also molested T.S. in the
bathroom at the First Street house. He "would have
[T.S.] bend over the toilet and he would molest [her] anally,
and ... the same with [her] bedroom." Id. at
92. Sorenson would also "threaten [T.S.] if [she] didnt
stop crying" or tell her that "he was go[ing to] go
and get [J.S.] and do it to [her] instead ...."
Id. Although T.S. could not recall a specific number
of times Sorenson had molested her at the First Street house,
she "used to think that the amount [of] freckles [she]
had on [her] face and [her] body was the amount of times
[Sorenson had] molested" her there. Id. at 91.
6] The molestations continued after the family had
moved to the Third Street house. Sorenson would "sneak[
] into [her] bedroom at night" and sodomize T.S. in her
bunk bed. Id. at 93. He "would take [her] into
the bathroom and ... have [her] lean over the toilet or the
bathtub" to "have sex with [her] anally."
Id. He would have her put a towel down on his bed,
"lean [her] over the side of the bed[,] and ... have sex
with [her] anally" there. Id. at 94. At least
once, T.S. "wouldnt stop crying" during Sorensons
molestation of her, and he "punched her in the
back," which "hurt." Id. Sorensons
attacks on T.S. gave her hemorrhoids on at least one occasion
and made defecation difficult for her.
[¶ 7] Around 2006 or 2007, while at the
house of a family friend, Sorenson attempted to sodomize T.S.
but T.S. "begged him to vaginally molest [her] instead
of anally" because "it hurt less."
Id. at 96. Although she later could not recall
another specific instance of Sorenson molesting her
vaginally, she "assum[ed] it [had] happened"
because, even though she was only eleven or twelve during the
incident at the friends house, she knew "it didnt hurt
as bad when it was vaginal as when it was anal."
Id. Sorenson told T.S. to never tell anyone of the
molestations or he would hurt T.S.s mother, sister, or
himself. Around the time T.S. turned fifteen years old,
Sorenson stopped molesting her.
[¶ 8] J.S. lived at the First Street house
until she was about four years old. Although very young at
the time, J.S. later would be able to recall at least two
occasions at the First Street house in which Sorenson had
molested her. In particular, she remembered that, on one
occasion, Sorenson had called her into his bedroom, exposed
her to pornography on a television in the room, and then
"bent [her] over the bed" such that she was
"face down" on the bed "faced toward the
wall." Id. at 47. Sorenson then anally
penetrated J.S. with his penis.
[¶ 9] On a separate occasion, J.S. and T.S.
"ran into" their parents bedroom late at night
because "it was thundering." Id. at 48.
Their mother was in the bed, but Sorenson "sent mom to
the store to get something." Id. Once she had
left, Sorenson sodomized J.S. In doing so, he told her that,
"if [she] was good," she would get a
"lunchable" treat later. Id.
[¶ 10] One day after the family had moved to
the Third Street home, Sorenson took J.S. to the grocery
store. But they did not go back to the family home afterward.
Instead, Sorenson took J.S. to a grandmothers house in
Rushville. As soon as they were through the threshold of the
grandmothers house, Sorenson "just bent [J.S.] over
right there and did anal penetration" with his penis.
Id. at 49. On another occasion at a grandmothers
house, Sorenson sodomized J.S. using some leftover
"bacon grease as lubrication." Id. at 61.
[¶ 11] J.S. lived at the Third Street home
with Sorenson for about ten years. During that time, Sorenson
sodomized J.S. "[j]ust about every day."
Id. at 51-52. On one occasion, J.S. was lying down
on her bed when her mother and T.S. "went to the store
to go get dinner." Id. at 54. Once they were
gone, Sorenson "came in the bedroom and ... took [J.S.]
to the bathroom," where he anally penetrated her.
Id. at 54-55. He then "sent [her] back to the
bedroom to act like [she] was still l[ying] down" when
her mother and T.S. returned. Id. at 55.
[¶ 12] But most of Sorensons abuse of J.S.
at the Third Street home occurred in Sorensons bedroom.
"[I]t was always anal penetration." Id. at
56. J.S. was nearly always "bent over[ ] on the
bed," with her feet only "kind of touching the
floor" but "not so much" given her size.
Id. During the abuse, Sorenson would "always
watch out the window ... to see if mom would show up."
Id. J.S. could sometimes tell when Sorenson was
about to molest her based on "[t]he way he would
look" at her, which was like
when you havent [eaten] for a whole day, and you get home
from work, and you have this plate set down in front of you,
and you feel your stomach growling, and your mouth starts
watering; you get that look in your eyes .... [H]e had that
Id. at 59.
[¶ 13] During one of Sorensons last
molestations of J.S., around the time she was fourteen or
slightly older, J.S. remembered a younger sibling being in
her parents bedroom "in a bouncy seat."
Id. at 57. J.S. remembered "seeing her ...
little sisters face" during the molestation.
Id. J.S. felt "broke[n]" in that moment
and resolved that she did not "want that to happen"
to her little sister. Id. at 57-58. J.S. then tried
to tell her mother about the molestations, but her mother
"didnt have a reaction like [J.S.] expected. She was
too calm about it. It was like she already knew."
Id. at 58. J.S.s mother also "tr[ied] to talk
[J.S.] out of" going to the police. Id. J.S.
then began telling Sorenson "no" when he would try
to molest her, and the molestations ceased. Id. at
[¶ 14] While living at the Third Street
house, J.S. was friends with C.N., a girl who also lived on
Third Street in Rushville and was a few months younger than
J.S. C.N. stayed the night at the Sorensons Third Street
house on two occasions. On both occasions, Sorenson molested
[¶ 15] The first time it happened, C.N.
remembered "w[aking] up to [her] pants down" and
Sorenson "going inside [her] ... vagina" with
"[h]is penis." Id. at 78. C.N. was about
eight years old at the time. She was lying "[o]n [her]
side, facing the wall" in J.S.s bedroom, and could see
"toys and clothes and the wall." Id. When
Sorenson finished, he told her, "Oh, I thought you were
my wife." Id. at 80. He then walked away and
C.N. put her ...