Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
H. Edwards, Jr. ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT
Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Jeffrey
Schnatter Assistant County Prosecutor ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
BEFORE: Jones, J., Keough, A.J., and E.T. Gallagher, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
A. JONES, SR., J.:
Defendant-appellant Anthony Wuensch ("Wuensch")
appeals his convictions of rape, gross sexual imposition,
kidnapping with a sexual motivation specification, and
underage alcohol use. The convictions were rendered after a
bench trial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
Factual and Procedural Background
The minor victim in this case, A.C., is Wuensch's
biological niece. A.C.'s biological parents had substance
abuse issues and lost custody of her when she was
approximately three-and-a-half years old. After her parents
lost custody of A.C., she went to live with foster parents,
who adopted her when she was about six- and-a-half years old.
Some of A.C.'s biological relatives, including Wuensch,
maintained a relationship with A.C. and her adoptive family.
Wuensch was married with children, and A.C. frequently
visited with him and his family.
The record demonstrates that, during the relevant time
period, A.C. had psychological issues. She first began
treating with a psychologist, Dr. Michael Esson ("Dr.
Esson"), shortly after she was adopted. As A.C. grew
older, her issues intensified and included self-harm
behaviors and substance abuse. In 2013, she was placed in a
treatment facility after a self-cutting incident, and from
January 2014 through March 2014 she participated in an
intensive outpatient program. The incident giving rise to
this case occurred on March 24, 2014; A.C. was 15 years old
at the time. In the time frame leading up to the subject
incident, A.C.'s adoptive parents were going through a
divorce and A.C.'s relationship with her mother was
contentious. A.C. had also recently broken up with her
On the day of the incident, A.C. and her mother had an
argument. After the argument, her mother drove her to
cheerleading practice. A.C. decided that she did not want to
stay for the practice, however, and walked to Wuensch's
house. Wuensch was home alone, and called A.C.'s mother
to let her know that A.C. was there. The mother gave
permission for A.C. to spend the night there and brought her
a change of clothes. The mother testified that she was not
aware that Wuensch was home alone, however, and that if she
had known that, she would not have allowed A.C. to stay.
A.C. testified at trial as to the following events that
occurred after her arrival at Wuensch's house. The two
first talked about marital problems that Wuensch and his wife
were having. Later, they went in the basement and they both
were smoking cigarettes; Wuensch was drinking beer, and he
gave a can to A.C, but she only drank a little of it. A.C.
testified that Wuensch was consuming a large quantity of
beer. She also testified that that evening was not the first
time she had smoked and drank with Wuensch.
According to A.C, the conversation eventually turned to one
about sex life, with Wuensch asking her personal questions
about hers, telling her that he had not had sex in a while,
and asking if she could "hook him up" with one of
her friends. The two then talked about A.C.'s recent
break-up with her boyfriend, and they decided that they would
go "egg" his house; they left Wuensch's house
sometime between 11:00 p.m. and midnight.
They first walked to the house of one of A.C.'s good
friends. The friend came outside to talk to A.C. and Wuensch.
The friend testified at trial, and told the court that
Wuensch appeared to be under the influence of alcohol - he
was acting "silly and out of control" - and he and
A.C. were "goofing off with each other. The friend
testified that A.C. and Wuensch told her of their plan to
"egg" A.C.'s former boyfriend's house.
According to A.C, when she and Wuensch left her friend's
house, they went back to Wuensch's house to get changed
and get some eggs. They then left on foot to go to the former
boyfriend's house. A.C. testified that while they were
walking to the former boyfriend's house, Wuensch again
started with conversation that was sexual and personal in
As they neared the former boyfriend's house, Wuensch
twisted his ankle, which prompted him to tell A.C. that she
"owed" him. A.C. asked him what he meant, and
Wuensch told her that she would have to show him her breasts
for 30 seconds or give him a full body massage. A.C.
testified that she figured Wuensch was being
"weird" because he was intoxicated and she just
"laughed it off." But Wuensch kept telling her that
she "owed" him. The two then vandalized the former
boyfriend's house. The boyfriend's father confirmed
that his house had been vandalized, but testified that both
he and his son were unaware at the time it happened of who
When they arrived back at Wuensch's house, they went into
the basement, and Wuensch again told A.C. that she would have
to either show him her breasts or give him a full body
massage. Uncomfortable, A.C. told Wuensch that she was going
to go upstairs to bed. As she was walking up the stairs,
Wuensch grabbed her arm and told A.C. that she was not
leaving until she gave in to his demand. A.C. testified that
she showed Wuensch her breasts because she felt that was the
only way she could escape him, and indeed he did let her go
after she had done so.
A.C. went upstairs into a bedroom, closed and locked the
door, and proceeded to get ready for bed. While she was lying
in bed, she heard Wuensch trying to get into the room;
eventually he did. He got into bed with her and sexually
assaulted her. A.C. testified that she was crying and begging
him to stop. The assault ended after she kicked him in his
groin with her knee and she was able to get away. A.C.
testified that she went into the living room to sleep, and
Wuensch stayed in the bedroom.
The following day, Wuensch told A.C. not to tell anyone about
what had happened and that if she did she would never again
be able to see his daughters, with whom she was very close.
A.C. testified that although she spent the day at
Wuensch's house, she tried to keep her distance from him.
Her mother picked her up in the early evening, and although
she thought about telling her what had happened, she decided
not to out of fear of never seeing Wuensch's daughters
A day or two later, A.C. told the friend whom she and Wuensch
had visited what happened. A.C. testified that the friend
told her that she (the friend) "felt like something like
that was going to happen" because Wuensch had been
acting "weird" that night. A.C. told her friend not
to tell anyone, and the friend testified that she did not
tell anyone because she did not believe it was her place to
say anything. The friend testified that, after A.C.'s
disclosure, her relationship with her changed because
A.C.'s behavior began to change.
A.C. testified that she was depressed after the incident. She
engaged in self-harm behaviors because she wanted to die, and
started using "hard" drugs. She admitted, however,
that her behavioral, substance abuse and mental health issues
predated the sexual assault.
A.C.'s mother testified that after March 2014, she
noticed a drastic change in A.C., and asked Dr. Esson, who
was counseling A.C., if he could determine why her behavior
had changed so much. The mother testified that she did not
believe Dr. Esson was making progress with A.C., however, so
she stopped A.C.'s treatment with him and began taking
her to see another psychologist, Dr. Kathleen Payne
Dr. Payne began treating A.C. in June 2014; she diagnosed her
with post-traumatic stress disorder. The doctor testified
that, in September 2014, A.C. told her that in March 2014,
she and her mother had an argument so she went to stay with
Wuensch. A.C. told Dr. Payne that Wuensch was drinking and
complaining that he and his wife had not been having sex.
A.C. further told the doctor that Wuensch had asked her to
show him her breasts, but she did not do it. Dr. Payne
consulted with colleagues after that disclosure, and
ultimately decided that it was not a reportable incident. She
did tell A.C.'s parents, however.
Dr. Payne testified that in August 2015, A.C. disclosed to
her that Wuensch had raped her. A.C. told the doctor that she
had not previously disclosed it because she was ashamed. She
also told Dr. Payne that Wuensch told her that no one would
believe her. Dr. Payne reported the disclosure the following
day to the Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family
Dr. Payne testified that it is not uncommon for such a
disclosure, especially by adolescents, to be delayed because
it takes time to build trust. She also testified that
A.C.'s symptoms and ...