Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common
Pleas Case No. CR-18-628628-A
Michael C. O'Malley, Cuyahoga County Prosecuting
Attorney, and Christine M. Vacha, Assistant Prosecuting
Attorney, for appellee.
M. Heindel, for appellant
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
EILEEN KILBANE, ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE
1} Defendant-appellant, Gregory Scruggs, Jr.
("Scruggs"), appeals his convictions for rape and
sexual battery. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
2} In January 2018, Scruggs was charged with four
counts of rape, three counts of kidnapping, and one count
attempted rape. The charges arose from separate incidents,
involving three victims, and each was alleged to have
occurred, approximately a year apart, between June 2015 and
3} In September 2018, the trial court granted
Scruggs's motion to sever the counts pertaining to each
victim. In the same month, a jury trial commenced on one
count each of rape and kidnapping pertaining to victim T.M.
4} At trial, 25-year-old T.M. testified that on July
23, 2017, she spent time with her best friend, Jamica, and
her cousin, Van. They drove around, drank alcohol, and smoked
marijuana. T.M. stated they bought a fifth of Hennessy and
started drinking around noon. The three shared the alcohol as
they drove around.
5} T.M. testified that around 6:00 p.m., they
stopped to visit her sister T.M.II. While visiting her
sister, T.M. exchanged text messages with a man named Maurice
Bryant ("Bryant"), whom she had met several weeks
earlier. Bryant indicated he would pick her up from her
sister's house, so they could spend time together.
6} Bryant arrived at T.M.II's house around 7:00
p.m. Bryant was accompanied by another man, who was later
identified as Scruggs. T.M. and Jamica entered Bryant's
car and the four began driving around. Bryant and Scruggs
were drinking alcohol and offered the women a drink, but they
declined. T.M. testified she declined because she was already
drunk, had been drinking dark liquor all day and Bryant and
Scruggs were drinking light liquor.
7} T.M. testified that after driving around for a
while, and after Bryant made stops at several houses, they
went to Scruggs's house. Once there, the four sat around
watching television. At some point, T.M. left with Bryant to
go to the liquor store. When they returned to Scruggs's
house, they continued to watch television. T.M. testified
that while they were watching television, she fell asleep on
the couch next to Bryant and Jamica, who were already asleep.
8} T.M. testified that at some point during the
middle of the night, she awoke because she felt as if she was
falling off the couch. T.M. stated the living room was dark,
the television had been turned off, her shorts and underwear
were pulled down, and she felt someone inserting his penis
into her vagina. T.M. stated she pushed him off, pulled up
her shorts, and went back to sleep because she still felt
drunk. T.M. testified that she was awakened a second time
when someone inserted his penis into her vagina. T.M. stated
she again pushed him off her and pulled up her shorts. T.M.
stated that as she was trying to become fully awake, she
observed Bryant coming through the front door. T.M. told
Bryant she was ready to leave and he took her home.
9} T.M. testified that she called T.M.II early the
next morning and described what occurred and later went to
the hospital where a rape kit was completed and where she
indicated Bryant was the perpetrator. When T.M. reported the
incidents to the police, she also indicated Bryant was the
10} T.M. testified that she subsequently sent Bryant
a text stating, "[i]f you wanted to have sex then you
could have just asked me. And then I told him to lose my
number, and he said he already did." T.M. testified that
at the time she sent the text, she thought it was Bryant who
had sexually assaulted her so she was surprised when the
rape-kit results indicated it was Scruggs who had committed
the sexual assault.
11} T.M.'s older sister, T.M.II, testified that
on July 23, 2017, T.M. and Jamica visited with her for a few
hours. T.M.II stated her sister was drunk when she arrived,
but that she continued drinking. T.M.II testified that Jamica
was also drunk and fell asleep on the couch. T.M.II stated
that someone in a dark-colored vehicle picked up her sister
and Jamica. T.M.II testified that because she did not know
the individual who picked up T.M., she communicated with her
sister via text throughout the rest of the evening. T.M.II
stated that the following morning, her sister contacted her
and informed her of the sexual assault.
12} Scruggs testified on his own behalf. Scruggs
testified he and Bryant picked up T.M. and her friend between
6:30 and 7:00 p.m. on July 23, 2017. Scruggs stated that he
and Bryant were drinking, offered the women a drink, but T.M.
refused and informed them she would not drink light liquor
because she had been drinking dark liquor. Scruggs stated
they drove around for about an hour and then went to the
house where he lived with his grandmother.
13} Scruggs testified that while at his
grandmother's house, they sat around watching a show
called "Power," while T.M.'s friend slept on
the couch. Scruggs stated T.M. left with Bryant and they
returned about 45 minutes later. Scruggs stated that a short
time later, Bryant left again.
14} Scruggs testified that after Bryant left, he and
T.M. began talking and flirting with each other. Scruggs
stated that he and T.M. went into a room adjacent to the
living room where they had consensual sex. Scruggs stated
that T.M. asked if he had any money and he told her that he
did. Scruggs stated they had sex in two different rooms.
Scruggs testified that after they had sex, T.M. asked him not
to tell Bryant and he told her he would not. After Bryant
returned, he and Scruggs dropped T.M. and Jamica home.
15} The jury found Scruggs guilty of rape, but not
guilty of kidnapping. Thereafter, Scruggs pled guilty to two
counts of sexual battery relating to victims D.A. and E.W.
The trial court sentenced Scruggs to five years in prison for
rape and to two years each for the sexual battery charges.
The trial court ordered concurrent sentences for a total
prison term of five years.
16} Scruggs now appeals, assigning the following
four errors for review:
Assignment of Error One
The conviction for rape was against the manifest weight of