Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Eric M. Levy
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga
County Prosecutor By: Jeffrey Schnatter Assistant County
BEFORE: Keough, P.J., Laster Mays, J., and Jones, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
KATHLEEN ANN KEOUGH, PRESIDING JUDGE
Defendant-appellant, Cedric Jeffries ("Jeffries"),
appeals from the trial court's judgment finding him
guilty of rape and kidnapping and sentencing him to 15 years
to life in prison. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in
part; reverse in part; and remand for a hearing regarding the
imposition of court costs.
Jeffries was charged in a four-count indictment as follows:
Count 1, rape in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(1)(b); Count 2,
kidnapping in violation of R.C. 2905.01(A)(4) with a sexual
motivation specification; Count 3, rape in violation of R.C.
2907.02(A)(2); and Count 4, kidnapping in violation of R.C.
2905.01(A)(4) with a sexual motivation specification. Counts
1 and 2 related to an incident that occurred on December 23,
2011, the victim's twelfth birthday, and Counts 3 and 4
related to an incident that occurred in March 2016, when the
victim was 16 years old. Jeffries pleaded not guilty and the
case proceeded to a jury trial.
The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that Jeffries and
R.S., the victim's mother, had an on and off relationship
for several years. During those years, R.S. had one child
with Jeffries and two children with other men, including
D.S., the victim in this case. R.S. eventually lost custody
of the children, and they went to foster care.
D.S. testified that she lived in three different foster homes
before she was six years old, when she went to live with
H.G., Jeffries's mother, who had obtained custody of
R.S.'s three children. Jeffries also lived in the home.
D.S. was not Jeffries's biological child but she
testified that she considered him to be her father and called
D.S. testified that about a year after she moved in, Jeffries
began touching her inappropriately. She said the first
incident she remembered was when Jeffries lay on his back on
the couch, placed her on his stomach, placed his hand on her
buttocks, and then moved his hand around. Both D.S. and
Jeffries were clothed during this incident.
D.S. testified that the inappropriate touching continued as
she grew older. She recalled an incident when she was about
nine years old when Jeffries came into the living room while
she was watching television and forced her to take her
clothes off and sit on his lap on the couch. She testified
that there were other incidents where Jeffries would force
her to take her clothes off and sit on his lap; she said that
sometimes he was dressed during these incidents but at other
times he would have his pants down. She said that during
these incidents, Jeffries would touch her buttocks, breasts,
and vagina. D.S. testified that the incidents occurred when
H.G. left the house on the weekends or after her brothers
were in bed.
D.S. testified that on December 23, 2011, her twelfth
birthday, Jeffries instructed her to take her clothes off and
lay on the couch. She said that Jeffries, who was undressed,
laid on top of her and after touching her vagina, inserted
his fingers and then his penis into her vagina. D.S.
testified that she did not feel like she could leave or get
away from Jeffries during this incident.
D.S. testified that this type of sexual activity continued
for "years." She said that she never told anyone
about the abuse because she was afraid that no one would
believe her, or she would be sent back to foster care.
In March 2016, when she was sixteen years old, D.S. finally
told Jacqueline Bell, the principal at her high school, about
the abuse because she "was just tired of it." D.S.
testified that one or two weeks before she told Ms. Bell,
Jeffries came into her bedroom one night as she was sleeping.
She said she was sleeping on her stomach, dressed in pajama
pants, underwear, and a tee-shirt, when she awoke to Jeffries
lying on top of her. D.S. testified that Jeffries pulled her
pajama pants and underwear down, and then pulled his own
pants off. She said that he then got back on top of her and
put his penis in her vagina. She testified that during this
incident, she did not feel like she could leave and had no
choice but to stay.
After Jeffries left her room, D.S. decided to run away. She
packed two bags and left home at approximately 11 p.m. D.S.
said she took Jeffries's cell phone with her because he
had hidden her phone.
During the hours after D.S. ran away, Jeffries called her
over 30 times but D.S. did not answer. He also texted her at
approximately 10:30 a.m. the following morning, telling her
"police on way" and asking her to "don't
tell on me."
After she ran away, D.S. walked to her high school and when
it opened at 7 a.m., told Bell about the abuse. Bell called
Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services
("CCDCFS"), and CCDCFS social worker Shannon Sneed
responded to the school and interviewed D.S. The police were
called, and Jeffries was eventually arrested.
At trial, Jeffries denied that he ever sexually abused D.S.
He admitted sending a text to her the morning after she ran
away, but said that he texted "police on way only
because he did not want D.S. to be scared when the police
arrived at her school. He also said he intended to text
"just talk to me" but the old cell phone he was
using somehow changed his text to "don't tell on
The jury found Jeffries guilty of all counts. The prosecutor
counsel agreed that for purposes of sentencing, Counts 1 and
2 merged and Counts 3 and 4 merged. The state elected to
proceed to sentencing on Counts 2 and 3. The trial court
sentenced Jeffries to life in prison on Count 2, with parole
eligibility after 15 years, to run concurrent to 10 years
incarceration on Count 3. The court also imposed court costs.
This appeal followed.
Law and Analysis
Evidence of Victim's Prior Allegations of Nonconsensual
Sexual Abuse Precluded From Trial
Prior to trial, the trial court held an in camera hearing
pursuant to State v. Boggs, 63 Ohio St.3d 418, 588
N.E.2d 318 (1992), to determine the admissibility at trial of
evidence regarding D.S.'s prior allegations of sexual
misconduct against a foster brother. At the hearing, D.S.
testified that when she was in a foster home at age four or
five, one of her foster brothers sexually abused her,
including putting his penis in her vagina. She said that the
activity was not consensual, and that she honestly disclosed
the abuse to a CCDCFS social worker. The trial court then
denied Jeffries's request to allow defense counsel to ask
questions of D.S. regarding these prior allegations of sexual
abuse by the foster brother, concluding that
cross-examination on this issue was precluded by Ohio's
rape shield statute. In his first assignment of error,
Jeffries contends that the trial court erred in denying his
request because it violated his Sixth Amendment right to
confront the witnesses against him.
R.C. 2907.02(D), Ohio's rape shield statute, states, in
relevant part, that:
Evidence of specific instances of the victim's sexual
activity, opinion evidence of the victim's sexual
activity, and reputation evidence of the victim's sexual
activity shall not be admitted under this section unless it
involves evidence of the origin of semen, pregnancy, or
disease, or the victim's past sexual activity with the
offender, and only to the extent that the court finds that
the evidence is material to a fact at issue in the case and
that its inflammatory or prejudicial nature does not outweigh
its probative value.
Jeffries cites to State v. Stoffer, 7th Dist.
Columbia No. 09-CO-1, 2011-Ohio-5133, in which the Seventh
District found that the rape shield statute address only
prior consensual sexual activity of the victim and
not prior sexual abuse suffered by the victim. Id.
at ¶ 98. Thus, in Stoffer, although it
ultimately found the error to be harmless, the Seventh
District held that the trial court erred in applying the rape
shield statute to preclude the defendant from introducing
evidence that the victim had previously been sexually abused
by someone other than the defendant. In State v.
Sledge, 6th Dist. Lucas No. L-15-1109, 2016-Ohio-4904,
the Sixth District, citing Stoffer, found that where
alleged prior sexual abuse of the victim does not result from
"volitional sexual acts * * * it may not fall within the
general prohibition mandated by R.C. 2907.02(D)."
Id. at ¶ 19. In reliance on Stoffer
and Sledge, Jeffries asserts that the rape shield
statute did not preclude his cross-examination of D.S.
regarding her prior allegations of sexual abuse against a
foster brother. We disagree because the Ohio Supreme Court
has made it clear that both prior nonconsensual and
consensual sexual activity of the victim are protected by the
rape shield statute.
In Boggs, supra, the Ohio Supreme Court considered
whether the rape shield statute prohibits a defendant from
cross-examining an alleged rape victim about prior false rape
allegations. The court held that before cross-examination of
a rape victim regarding prior false rape accusations may
proceed, "the trial judge shall hold an in camera
hearing to ascertain whether such testimony involves sexual
activity and thus is inadmissible under R.C. 2907.02(D), ...