COA affirms convictions of man who attempted to rape granddaughter, but remands for clarification

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While the Court of Appeals of Indiana didn’t overturn a Logansport man’s convictions for attempting to rape his granddaughter, the Cass Circuit Court will need to go back and clarify the record on his judgment and sentencing.

Around May 2018, Ladis Saavedra began asking his granddaughter H.J.S.V., who lived in Guatemala and was then 15 years old, to send him “sexy videos” in exchange for money sent to her family. The teen complied, sending her grandfather explicit photographs of herself and the requested videos.

In April 2019, Saavedera paid to have H.J.S.V. brought to the United States, and she eventually came to live with him. Once there, Saavedra frequently asked H.J.S.V. to have sexual intercourse with him, but she refused.

One evening, H.J.S.V. heard a noise and a cry for help from Saavedra’s bedroom. When H.J.S.V. entered the bedroom, Saavedra, naked, emerged from behind the door, grabbed her from behind and attempted to put her on the bed.

H.J.S.V. managed to escape and later told her aunt what had happened.

The state charged Saavedra with Level 3 felony attempted rape, Level 5 felony child exploitation, Level 5 felony vicarious sexual gratification and Level 6 felony sexual battery. A jury convicted him as charged.

Saavedra’s sexual battery conviction was merged with his conviction for attempted rape, and he was sentenced to 12 years of incarceration for attempted rape, four years for child exploitation and four years for vicarious sexual gratification, with the last two sentences to be served concurrently.

On appeal, Saavedra contended that the state failed to produce sufficient evidence to sustain his convictions, that the trial court’s merger of sexual battery and attempted rape violated prohibitions against double jeopardy and that remand was appropriate for his sentence.

But the COA determined that the evidence supported the child exploitation, vicarious gratification and merged attempted rape convictions.

As to the double jeopardy claims, the COA relied on Green v. State, 856 N.E.2d 703 (Ind. 2006), to find the trial court acted within its powers on the merge, but determined further clarification was needed on the record.

“Here, although Saavedra was not sentenced for sexual battery, the record is inconclusive regarding whether judgment of conviction was entered on that charge,” Chief Judge Cale Bradford wrote. “In light of the fact that the proper remedy in this case requires that no judgment of conviction be entered on the sexual battery verdict, we remand for clarification of the record on that point.”

The COA also determined the written record was inconsistent for Saavedra’s sentencing.

“A hearing journal entry from July 15, 2021, indicated that Saavedra was ‘sentenced to 16 years DOC[,]’, while neither the sentencing order of the same date nor the abstract of judgment indicates that any sentence would be served consecutive to any others,” Bradford wrote. “Saavedra requests, and the State concurs, that we remand for clarification.”

The case is Ladis Orlando Saavedra v. State of Indiana, 21A-CR-1761.

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