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COA: Admittance of juvenile’s statement harmless error

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was divided Thursday over whether a 12-year-old boy accused of child molesting and his mother were afforded the opportunity to have a meaningful consultation before speaking to police. The judges did agree that the boy’s adjudication should be affirmed.

The court record shows that J.L., who was 12 years old, asked 6-year-old F.R. on May 26, 2012, if he wanted “to have a gay party,” and F.R. said “no.” J.L. persisted, F.R. did not cooperate, and J.L. then touched F.R.’s penis by placing his hand over F.R.’s clothing and squeezing F.R.’s penis for “one minute.” J.L. asked F.R. if he liked it, and F.R. responded “no.” Later that night, F.R. attempted to wake his father to tell him what had occurred, but J.L. prevented him from doing so. F.R. told his mother when he returned to her house at the end of the weekend.

J.L. and his mother went to the police in January 2013 to discuss the incident with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police detective Robin Meyers. J.L.’s mother does not speak English, so an officer interpreted for her and she was provided the juvenile waiver form in Spanish. Meyers told J.L. and his mother they could have time to talk together if they wanted, but officers never left the room and never stopped recording the interview. J.L. and his mother eventually agreed to talk in which J.L. admitted to touching the boy’s penis.

F.R. also testified about the incident. J.L. was found to have committed what would be Class C felony child molesting if committed by an adult. He appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in admitting his statement to police and that the evidence doesn’t sustain his adjudication.  

In J.L. v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1306-JV-297, Judges Elaine Brown and Margret Robb found J.L. and his mother did not knowingly and voluntarily waive their right to meaningful consultation, citing the evidence that police never left the room and the interview continued to be recorded. But that error was harmless, Brown wrote.

“[H]ere the evidence reveals that J.L. taught F.R. about ‘gay parties’ and asked F.R. if he enjoyed it when J.L. touched his penis. Such conduct supports the inference that J.L. intended to arouse or satisfy his sexual desires,” Brown wrote. “Under these circumstances, we conclude that the State presented evidence of a probative nature from which a reasonable trier of fact could find that J.L. committed an act that would constitute child molesting as a class C felony if committed by an adult.”

Judge Barnes concurred in result, believing that the meaningful opportunity to confer was extended, considered and knowingly and voluntarily waived as contemplated by I.C. 31-32-5-2.

 

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  1. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  2. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  3. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

  4. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

  5. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

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