Although the trial court erred in admitting most of the pornographic images possessed by the defendant at his child molestation trial, the admission was a harmless error. As such, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed William Remy’s 95-year sentence for five charges related to repeated molestation of a boy.
Over the course of two years, Remy molested the son of his girlfriend, beginning when the boy was 11 years old. Some of the acts Remy had the boy do mirrored pornographic images he owned. Once the boy and his mother moved out of state, the boy reported the incidents and Remy was arrested.
Remy was found guilty of three counts of Class A felony child molesting, one count of Class C felony child molesting and Class D felony performing sexual conduct in the presence of a minor. He was sentenced to 95-and-a-half years in prison.
Remy appealed, claiming certain pornographic materials admitted at his trial should not have been allowed and that his sentence is inappropriate.
Only one of the images in question was similar to an act Remy performed on the boy, so there was no error in allowing it. The remaining 16 images should not have been admitted under Indiana Evidence Rule 404(b) to show grooming of the boy, Judge Margret Robb wrote, as it’s unclear when the images were shown to him.
“We believe this case presents an example of how a real danger exists that rationales such as ‘plan’ and ‘grooming’ are becoming all-purpose excuses to admit prejudicial evidence in child molestation cases. We must take care to ensure that Rule 404(b)’s exceptions do not swallow the rule,” she noted in William Remy v. State of Indiana, 48A02-1310-CR-857.
“Although a danger of prejudice and the possibility of the forbidden inference existed after the admission of pornographic images, we do not believe that the erroneous admission of that evidence requires a new trial here. In this particular case, the evidence corroborating H.B.’s testimony shifts the balance toward harmless error, and we cannot say that the challenged evidence here matches the extreme prejudice that comes with evidence of past acts of molestation,” Robb wrote.
The judges also affirmed his sentence given the number of times the activities occurred, the abuse of trust, and the heinous nature of the activities to which Remy subjected the boy.