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Stepfather’s molestation convictions affirmed

October 14, 2016

A former stepfather accused of molesting his 6-year-old stepdaughter on multiple occasions cannot have his convictions or sentenced reduced after the Indiana Court of Appeals found Friday that there was enough evidence to support his 32-year sentence.

In Adam K. Baumholser v. State of Indiana, 82A04-1509-CR-1457, Adam Baumholser and A.L. were married in January 2006 and divorced in 2009. A.L. had a daughter from a previous marriage, K.C.

In February 2013, K.C. told her mother and grandmother that Baumholser had molested her five times in 2007. After a forensic interview of K.C., Baumholser was charged with four counts of child molestation, two as Class A felonies and two as Class C felonies.  Throughout the trial, K.C. testified that she did not disclose the molestations earlier because she was scared of her stepfather, and a forensic interviewer testified that children often delay the disclosure of such a crime.

Baumholser did not object to any of that testimony, and he was found guilty of one Class A felony and two Class C felony counts and was sentenced to 32 years on the Class A felony and four years each on the Class C felonies, all to be served concurrently.

In his appeal, Baumholser argued that the erroneous admission of character evidence and prior misconduct evidence, together with vouching testimony, denied his rights to a fair trial.

Specifically, he pointed to part of K.C.’s testimony in which she said Baumholser drank frequently and kept weapons in the house, thus painting him as a “drunken, armed menace who intimidated K.C. into suppressing her secret.” Such facts were inadmissible character and prior bad acts evidence, he said.

But the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected that notion, writing that the character evidence K.C. presented was not used to prove the molestation charges, but rather to show the reason K.C. waited several years before reporting the incidents. Thus, the admission of the evidence was not fundamental error, the Court of Appeals wrote.

Baumholser also argued that the forensic interviewer’s testimony was inadmissible because it was vouching testimony. But the Indiana Court of Appeals noted that the interviewer’s testimony was not related to the veracity of K.C.’s claims, but instead was used to discuss the behavior of child molestation victims, in general and, therefore, did not constitute fundamental error.

Baumholser’s final argument was that the Vanderburgh Circuit Court relied on an improper aggravating circumstance by noting that he was being convicted on three separate charges. But the appellate court wrote Friday that the three separate convictions could properly be considered aggravating factors and, even if that were not the case, Baumholser’s position of trust in K.C.’s life would have been an aggravator that would have supported a maximum sentence.

Further, the appellate court wrote that Baumholser could not successfully argue that his sentence was inappropriate given the circumstances.

“Baumholser molested his 6-year-old stepdaughter on multiple occasions,” the court wrote. “We see nothing inappropriate about his sentence being slightly high than the advisory sentence for the most severe of those crimes.”

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