Judgment Of Conviction Entered After a Jury Convicted Him of Ten Counts Arising from His Sexual Assaults of His Two Step Granddaughters

State of New Jersey v. O.A.C.

Docket No. A-3031-19

Decided September 28, 2022

Submitted by New Jersey Sex Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal from a judgment of conviction entered after a jury convicted him of ten counts arising from his sexual assaults of his two step granddaughters, Ka.F and Ki.F.

The facts of this case are as follows: Defendant began sexually assaulting Ka.F. in 2004 when she was six years old. Ka.F. could not identify the precise number of times she was sexually assaulted by the defendant because it happened so commonly. Defendant assaulted her almost every time she visited her grandparents’ house. Defendant stopped assaulting her when she was ten or eleven years because she had told him she was having her period. Ka.F. did not report the abuse at the time out of fear it would ruin her family. She told her best friend in sixth grade, J.U., about the assaults and attempted to tell her mother about its when she was fifteen but was brushed off by her.

Defendant began assaulting Ka.F’s sister, Ki.F., in 2013 when she was six years old. Like what happened with her sister, Ki.F. was also assaulted almost every time she went to her grandparents’ house. Ki.F. attempted to tell her grandmother about the sexual abuse, but she did not believe her. Defendant sexually abused Ki.F. from 2013-2018. In April or May 2018, Ka.F. began suspecting defendant was abusing Ki.F. when she noticed that he was buying her things and taking her to the park because it reminded her of his behavior when he was sexually abusing her. Ka.F. recorded a conversation with her sister, Ki.F. stated that defendant would touch her sexually and when she tried to back away he would get angry. She also stated that defendant would take off both his and her cloth, and when she resisted, he would threaten to leave their grandmother and harm her family members. Ka.F. played the recording for the victims’ father an hour or two later. Defendant was subsequently indicted by a grand jury on ten counts of various child sexual abuse laws.

The State moved in limine for an order that Ki.F.’s recorded statements to Ka.F. and the detective were admissible under the tender years exception to the hearsay rule. After a hearing pursuant to N.J.R.E. 104, at which Ka.F. and the detective testified, the trial court granted the State’s motion, and the recorded conversation with Ki.F. was deemed admissible at trial. The trial court found that under the totality of the circumstances, the recorded statement Ki.F made to Ka.F was trustworthy because including Ki.F.’s spontaneous admission prior to the recording, the position of trust between Ki.F. and Ka.F., and the lack of evidence of coaching in the terminology used by Ki.F. The trial court also found that Ki.F.’s recorded statement to the detective was admissible.

Thereafter, defendant moved to sever trial of the charges relating to Ka.F. from trial of the charges relating to Ki.F. The trial court denied defendant’s motion, noting that if the counts were severed for trial, evidence of defendant’s sexual abuse of Ka.F. would be admissible in the trial of the counts concerning Ki.F. and evidence of defendant’s sexual abuse of Ki.F. would be admissible in the trial of the counts concerning Ka.F given the similarities in the defendant’s conduct with each victim.

Defendant then moved for a judgment of acquittal. The trial court denied the motion finding the State had offered sufficient evidence for the jury to find each element of the crimes charged had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The defendant was convicted of nine of ten counts by the jury, but the one count he was not convicted on, the jury convicted him on a lesser included offense.

On appeal, the Appellate Court affirmed defendant’s conviction, as the court found no basis on which to reverse the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion. The Appellate Court ruled that as the finders of fact, the jury the jury was authorized to weigh the testimony and decide whether the defendant had sexually abused Ka.F. and Ki.F. The Appellate Court also affirmed the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to sever the charges related to each victim. The court reasoned that that evidence of Ka.F.’s abuse was relevant to explain her suspicion that defendant was also abusing Ki.F.

At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients for appeals in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to child sexual abuse crimes and motions for judgment of acquittal. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the defendant in this case, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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