Jessie L. Watson, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Allen Superior Court No. 02D05-1711-F1-19. The
Honorable Frances C. Gull, Judge.
Attorney for Appellant Randall J. Hammond Fort Wayne, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana George P. Sherman Supervising Deputy Attorney
General Indianapolis, Indiana
A jury found Jessie Watson guilty of Level 1 felony child
molesting, Level 4 felony child molesting, and Level 4 felony
incest, when the evidence established that he had committed
various acts of child molesting against his
eleven-year-old-daughter, T.R. Watson appeals his
convictions, claiming that the trial court erred in excluding
evidence of various internet searches, thus violating his
right to cross-examine a witness. Watson also alleges that
the trial court improperly permitted T.R. to testify that she
was telling the truth about statements that she made to a
forensic interviewer and an examining nurse after the
incidents. As a result, Watson contends that the State
improperly vouched for T.R.'s testimony and bolstered the
testimony of the nurse and interviewer.
& Procedural History
Mary and Jessie Watson were married in 2001, and T.R. was
born in 2005. Watson is T.R.'s biological father, but
Mary not her biological mother. Watson and Mary separated in
July of 2016, and T.R. continued to live with Watson in Allen
County. T.R., however, still regularly visited and
communicated with Mary. Sometime after Mary had moved from
the residence, Watson told T.R. that some visitors would be
stopping by in the evening. Watson told T.R. to undress, wrap
herself in a towel, and place a white and blue sleeping mask
over her eyes so she could not see the visitors.
Watson made T.R. wait in a back bedroom. At some point, T.R.
felt hands touch her "[a]ll over," including her
"private areas" and chest. Transcript Vol.
II at 129. T.R. also felt something "kind of
floppy" on her face that eventually entered her mouth.
T.R. tried to resist but was unsuccessful. T.R. then felt
"something come out" of the object in her mouth,
and she spit out the substance. Id. at 129-30.
Shortly after this incident, Watson told T.R. to remove the
mask because the visitor had left. Watson then directed T.R.
to rinse her mouth and brush her teeth. Similar episodes
occurred on other occasions. During the final incident, T.R.
positioned the mask in such a way that she could see the
"visitor." T.R. recognized Watson and his cologne,
which T.R. identified as the same smell that was present when
the "visitors" had previously been at the
T.R. told Mary what had occurred and showed her the sleeping
mask that Watson kept in his bedroom. Mary contacted the
police and an officer stopped by the house. T.R., however,
would not tell the officer what had occurred because Watson
had told her not to, and T.R. was afraid that she would no
longer be able to see Mary if she disobeyed Watson.
On October 27, 2016, Watson called T.R. and told her that
another visitor would be arriving later that evening. In
response, T.R. called Mary and arrangements were made for
T.R.'s aunt to stop by the residence and pick up T.R.
T.R. packed her belongings along with Watson's sleeping
mask and waited outside for her aunt. T.R.'s aunt picked
up T.R. and drove to T.R.'s grandparents' home where
the police were contacted. T.R. had placed the sleeping mask
on a table at her grandparents' house.
Watson appeared at the grandparents' home, saw the mask,
and told them that they should have called him instead of the
police. Watson then grabbed the mask and left. Thereafter,
T.R. was transported to the Bill Lewis Center for Children
(Lewis Center), where she spoke with Sara Drury, a forensic
interviewer. T.R. admitted to Drury that Watson had sexually
abused her and provided details about the incidents. T.R. was
then examined by nurse Leslie Cook, where she also recounted
to Cook what had occurred. T.R. told Cook that Watson was
responsible for the molestations.
The State charged Watson with two counts of felony child
molesting, and one count of incest, alleging that the
offenses had occurred "[s]ometime during the period of
time between the 20th day of July, 2016, and the 25th day of
October, 2016[.]" Appellant's Appendix at
17. Watson requested a jury trial and the day before trial,
Watson's defense counsel informed the trial court that
Watson wished to offer evidence concerning various internet
searches of a sexual nature that were made on a tablet
between July 29, 2016, and October 12, 2016. These searches
included "sex games," "daddy sleeping with
daughter," and "f_ _ king games."
Transcript Vol. III at 33-34. In response, the State
argued that the evidence was inadmissible under Indiana Evid.
Rule 412 because the evidence that Watson sought to admit
involved T.R.'s prior sexual behavior and/or sexual
predisposition. The State also asserted that Watson had
failed to provide proper notice under Indiana Evid. Rule
403(c) that he intended to offer such evidence, and it was
not established who had ...