COA affirms father’s child molestation convictions

Multiple child molestation charges against a father will stand, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Monday, rejecting the man’s arguments that a video-recorded interview of the victim and statements she made to a therapist and nurse should not have been admitted into evidence.

Jordin Shoda was convicted after the Whitley Circuit Court found him guilty of two counts of Level 1 felony child molesting and one count of Level 4 felony child molesting after he victimized his then-6-year-old daughter while she was in his care.

In Jordin C. Shoda v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-2279, Shoda argued the trial court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence a video-recorded forensic interview of A.E. He specifically contended that the trial court failed in its admittance under the protected persons statute because A.E.’s nonresponsiveness to his questioning at the protected persons hearing made her effectively unavailable for cross-examination.

Following its holding in Delao v. State, 940 N.E.2d 849 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011), the appellate court concluded Shoda failed to preserve any claim of error because he failed to make a contemporaneous objection and did not present the panel with a record sufficient to demonstrate that he did preserve a claim of error.

“Even if we were to consider Shoda’s claim on the merits, he would not prevail,” the panel wrote. It disagreed with Shoda’s characterization of A.E.’s testimony during the protected person’s hearing, where he alleged she was effectively unavailable for cross-examination because she “shut down” and would not answer questions regarding her father or any inappropriate touching.

“… [I]t appears as if A.E. simply didn’t understand the questions asked of her,” Judge Paul D. Mathias wrote for the panel. “When she responded by asking ‘What?’ Shoda simply switched his line of questioning and never revisited the questions regarding the touching. Nor did he ask the trial court to emphasize to A.E. that she needed to answer Shoda’s questions as best she could. We are therefore unable to conclude that Shoda has established that A.E. was truly unavailable for cross-examination.”

Finding Shoda was not deprived of his right to confrontation and that neither the state nor the trial court did anything to impair his ability to cross-examine A.E., the appellate court continued to reject his assertion of abuse of discretion in admitting statements made by A.E. to a nurse during a sexual assault examination.

The appellate court found Shoda made no objection at trial that the state failed to comply with the notice provisions of the protected persons statute. It also disagreed with his assertion that the state failed to establish that A.E. understood the importance of telling the truth to the nurse in order to get accurate medical treatment. The panel concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that A.E.’s out-of-court statements to the nurse were admissible under the exception to the hearsay rule contained in Evidence Rule 803(4).

Finally, the appellate court declined to accept Shoda’s argument that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting evidence of A.E.’s out-of-court statements to her therapist.

“Because there was evidence that A.E. understood that she was speaking with Trier for the purpose of obtaining treatment for her psychological or emotional trauma, we cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion by concluding that A.E.’s statements to Trier were made for and pertinent to medical treatment,” the panel concluded, affirming the judgment of the trial court.

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