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State v. Bowen

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Holmes

January 6, 2020

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
ROBERT C. BOWEN Defendant-Appellant

          Appeal from the Holmes County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 18CR0058

         JUDGMENT: Affirmed

          For Plaintiff-Appellee ROBERT K. HENDRIX Assistant Prosecuting Attorney

          For Defendant-Appellant ERIC J. ALLEN The Law Office of Eric J. Allen, Ltd.

          JUDGES: Hon. William B. Hoffman, P.J Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J.


          Hoffman, P.J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant Robert C. Bowen appeals his convictions and sentence entered by the Holmes County Court of Common Pleas, on one count of rape and four counts of sexual battery, following a jury trial. Plaintiff-appellee is the state of Ohio.


         {¶2} On June 4, 2018, the Holmes County Grand Jury indicted Appellant on one count of rape, in violation of R.C. 2907.02(A)(2) and (B), a felony of the first degree; and four counts of sexual battery, in violation of R.C. 2907.03(A)(5) and (B), felonies of the third degree. The charges arose from incidents involving Appellant's adopted daughter ("the Child"). Appellant appeared before the trial court for arraignment on June 12, 2018, and entered pleas of not guilty to all of the charges.

         {¶3} The matter proceeded to jury trial on January 28, 2019. The following evidence was adduced at trial.

         {¶4} Mary Bowen testified she and Appellant were married on July 4, 2011. Although they were still legally married at the time of the trial, Bowen indicated they had been separated for over a year. Bowen and Appellant became foster parents to the Child in September, 2012, and the child's sister in November, 2012. Bowen and Appellant adopted both children on March 24, 2014. Bowen conceded the Child and her sister had behavioral problems.

         {¶5} Bowen explained the Child and her sister were homeschooled after the Child's sister called in a bomb threat to her elementary school. Bowen worked six days a week, usually from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 or 6:00 p.m., but worked close enough to their home to check on the children during her lunch hour.

         {¶6} In June, 2016, when the Child was 15 years old, she disclosed to Bowen Appellant had touched her inappropriately. Bowen explained the Child had snuck out of the house around midnight one evening to meet a 19 or 20 year old young man, and did not return until 3:30 a.m. Bowen confronted the Child, telling her the young man would get in trouble if she (Bowen) called the police. The Child responded Bowen should call the police about Appellant as he had touched her. Bowen questioned Appellant, who denied any wrongdoing. The Child later told Bowen she was lying. The Child returned to public school in September, 2017.

         {¶7} In January, 2018, after the Child's sister set a number of fires, Children's Services became involved with the family. The Child's sister told Children's Services Appellant had been abusing her and the Child. When Children's Services questioned the Child regarding her sister's disclosure, the Child denied any abuse by Appellant.

         {¶8} Bowen recalled the Child attended her prom the weekend of April 21, 2018. When the Child was at school the following Monday, the Child disclosed Appellant had been abusing her. Bowen was instructed to bring the Child to Children's Services and thereafter learned about the Child's disclosure. Bowen was contacted by Victim's Assistance and was informed Appellant had confessed.

         {¶9} The Child testified, when she was 15 years old, Appellant entered her bedroom and touched her breasts over her clothing. Appellant instructed her not to tell her mother. The Child recalled it was the summer and she was sick. The Child detailed another incident which occurred when she was still 15. She noted she was being homeschooled at the time and needed help with algebra. The Child proceeded to Appellant's bedroom which was located in the basement of the home. Appellant began to help her with her math, but then pushed her onto his bed and removed her clothes. Appellant vaginally penetrated her. Appellant told the Child not to tell anyone or he would not be her father anymore. Appellant also threatened to do the same to the Child's sister if the Child told anyone. After the incident, the Child hurriedly put on her clothes and returned upstairs to finish her schoolwork. The Child testified Appellant had sexual intercourse with her at least five times. Shortly before the Child turned 16, she disclosed the abuse to Bowen. The Child admitted she later told Bowen she had made "the whole thing up". Tr. at 128.

         {¶10} The Child testified, in January, 2018, she spoke with a detective and a social worker after the Child's sister had set a few fires in their home. The detective and the social worker questioned the Child about Appellant, but she did not disclose the abuse at that time. The Child disclosed the abuse to her boyfriend and a friend the night of her prom, April 21, 2018. The following Monday, the Child met with Ms. Gilson, the school liaison, and told the woman what Appellant had done to her. Ms. Gilson informed the Child she was required to contact the authorities. When the Child returned home from school, Bowen met her at the bus and told her Children's Services needed to speak with her. The Child met with Jacqueline Shaw and disclosed the abuse.

         {¶11} Sergeant James Henry, a detective with the Holmes County Sheriff's Office, testified he interviewed Appellant on May 10, 2018. The interview was recorded and the recording was played for the jury. During the interview, Appellant confessed to having a sexual relationship with the Child. Det. Henry acknowledged the Child, during an interview on January 9, 2018, initially denied any sexual contact with Appellant. The detective explained it is not unusual for the victim of sexual abuse to initially not disclose the abuse occurred, but subsequently, after counseling, is able to do so.

         {¶12} Appellant testified on his own behalf. He explained he was contacted by Det. Lay of the Millersburg Police Department, who requested Appellant come to the station to speak with him. Appellant phoned Det. Lay and the two spoke on the telephone for an hour. During the conversation, the detective set up a computerized voice stress analyzer ("CVSA"). Several weeks later, in February, 2018, Appellant was interviewed by Det. Lay. Appellant and the detective spoke for two hours, including the time conducting the CVSA. Appellant did not hear from the detective again.

         {¶13} On April 24, 2018, the Tuesday following the Child's prom, Appellant received a message he needed to call Job and Family Services. He was instructed to contact Det. Henry. When Appellant initially sat down with Det. Henry, he assumed he was being questioned about the situation with the Child's sister. Appellant was shocked by the allegations. Appellant denied confessing to Det. Henry and denied abusing the Child.

         {¶14} After hearing all the evidence and deliberating, the jury found Appellant guilty of all five counts contained in the Indictment. The trial court sentenced Appellant ...

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