Court of Appeals of Ohio, Seventh District, Mahoning
Appeal from Court of Common Pleas of Mahoning County, Ohio
Case No. 2010 CR 354
Plaintiff-Appellee Paul Gains Prosecutor Ralph M. Rivera
Defendant-Appellant Francisco E. Luttecke Assistant State
JUDGES: Hon. Gene Donofrio Hon. Cheryl L. Waite Hon. Mary
Defendant-appellant, Maurice Clark, appeals from a Mahoning
County Common Pleas Court judgment convicting him of rape,
following a jury trial.
Appellant and L.M. were co-workers who frequently carpooled
to work, along with other co-workers, from Youngstown to
their place of employment in Pennsylvania. They began
carpooling in the summer of 2009.
According to L.M. over a short course of time, appellant
began to text and call her asking how she was doing and
inquiring if she was dating anyone. L.M. conveyed to
appellant that she was not interested in dating him. But
according to L.M., appellant persisted in asking her out and
contacted her multiple times a day by phone and text. One
time, when L.M. fell asleep in the car on the way to work,
she awoke to appellant touching her leg. L.M. told appellant
to stop and that she did not like him in that way.
Around the end of August 2009, L.M. decided to stop
carpooling with appellant because she felt he was contacting
her too much and interfering with her job. Soon thereafter,
however, L.M. was injured at work and took a few days off.
When she was able to return to work on September 13, 2009,
L.M. rode with appellant because she was taking medication
that affected her ability to drive.
After appellant dropped L.M. off at home that night after
10:00 p.m., he began texting and calling her. At first, L.M.
did not respond. L.M. needed to pick up another prescription
medication that night, so she left her house to go to
Walgreen's. But first she called appellant back to see
what he wanted. L.M. stated that appellant was crying and
told her he was depressed and needed to talk to her. So L.M.
went to appellant's house, which he shared with his
mother and daughter.
When she arrived, close to midnight, appellant met her in the
driveway and got into the passenger side of her vehicle. L.M.
stated that appellant kept telling her how he needed to talk
to her, but then he touched her breast. L.M. pushed his hand
away and told him not to touch her. Appellant then asked L.M.
to come into the house to talk. L.M. stated she would not go
into the house. But she stated that appellant grabbed her arm
and they walked into the garage, which was attached to the
house. L.M. did not enter the house. Appellant, however, went
inside briefly while LM. waited in the garage.
L.M. stated that while she was standing in the garage, the
lights went out inside the house. Then appellant came back
out of the house and into the garage where he turned off the
garage lights and locked the door. According to L.M.,
appellant pushed her up against the wall and began grabbing
and touching her. He then threw her to the ground and removed
her clothing. L.M. stated appellant pinned her down and raped
her. She stated that she was crying and yelling at him to
stop. She also tried to kick and punch him. L.M. stated that
she heard a noise in the house. She stated appellant then
finished assaulting her. She was then able to grab her
clothes and run out of the garage.
L.M. stated she got into her vehicle and appellant got in the
passenger side. She told him to get out, which he did, but
not before asking her if she was going to call the police.
L.M. left appellant's house and drove to Walgreen's
to pick up her prescription. L.M. then drove herself to the
hospital where she reported that she had been raped.
Appellant denied raping L.M. He admitted the two had sexual
intercourse in his garage on the night in question but
insisted it was consensual sex.
A Mahoning County Grand Jury indicted appellant on two counts
of rape, first-degree felonies in violation of R.C.
2907.02(A)(2)(B), and one count of kidnapping, a first-degree
felony in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(4)(C).
The matter proceeded to a jury trial. The jury found
appellant guilty of one count of rape. It found him not
guilty of the other rape count and of kidnapping.
The trial court subsequently held a sentencing hearing. The
court sentenced appellant to ten years in prison. The court
also designated appellant as a Tier III sex offender.
Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal on May 15, 2015. He
now raises five assignments of error.
Appellant's first assignment of error states:
CLARK WAS DEPRIVED OF HIS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS, A FAIR TRIAL,
AND TO PRESENT A DEFENSE TO THE STATE'S ACCUSATIONS WHEN
THE TRIAL COURT EXCLUDED PORTIONS OF A DEFENSE WITNESS'S
Appellant contends the trial court erred in excluding part of
defense witness Eugene Tensley's testimony. He contends
the rape shield law allows testimony regarding a past sexual
relationship between him and L.M. Appellant claims
Tensley's testimony would have directly refuted the
state's position that the relationship between appellant
and L.M. was that of appellant constantly pursuing L.M. and
L.M. constantly rejecting him. Appellant contends that the
excluded testimony supported the possibility that there was a
mutual relationship where consent was possible.
A trial court has broad discretion in determining whether to
admit or exclude evidence. State v. Mays, 108 Ohio
App.3d 598, 617, 671 N.E.2d 553 (8th Dist.1996). Abuse of
discretion connotes more than an error of law or judgment; it
implies that the trial court's attitude is unreasonable,