The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a Morgan County man’s child molestation conviction Thursday, rejecting his argument that the victim’s testimony was incredibly dubious.
Senior Judge Carr Darden wrote for the panel that affirmed a jury’s conviction of Level 4 felony child molesting in William C. Smith v. State of Indiana, 20A-CR-842.
William C. Smith was found guilty after the victim testified that at age 12 she was visiting with Smith and his children, one of whom was near her age, during the children’s Christmas break from school. Smith, one of his sons and the victim, C.N., sat together on a couch to watch a movie, she testified, telling the jury she dozed off but was awakened when she felt Smith put his finger in her vagina. The victim said she immediately left the couch, crying and in shock, went to the bathroom, and wanted to text her mother but found she had left her phone at home. She asked to be taken home and later told her mother, who filed a report with Martinsville police, leading to criminal charges against Smith.
In appealing his conviction, Smith argued the victim’s testimony was incredibly dubious. That defense requires meeting a three-pronged test, showing: there was a sole testifying witness; the witness’s testimony was inherently improbable, equivocal or coerced; and that there is lack of circumstantial evidence.
Finding that even though there were other witnesses who testified, none witnessed the alleged molestation, so Smith met the first prong of the test. However, even though Smith pointed to claims that the victim could not remember other things that happened that day, “testimony on the important facts regarding Smith’s molestation remained consistent,” Darden wrote. “Therefore, we conclude that C.N.’s testimony was not inherently contradictory or equivocal, and thus, the second Moore element has not been established.”
That element in Moore v. State, 27 N.E.3d 749, 751 (Ind. 2015), provides that a reviewing court may reverse when evidence is “so unbelievable, incredible, or improbable that no reasonable person could ever reach a guilty verdict based upon that evidence alone.”
While that conclusion negated the availability of Smith’s incredible dubiosity argument, the panel addressed the third prong of circumstantial evidence, noting that the nature of Smith’s crime “seldom leaves outward physical scars that can be corroborated by medical testimony and is seldom committed in the presence of eye-witnesses.
“Smith’s argument is nothing more than an invitation for this court to reweigh the evidence and judge the credibility of the witness, which we decline to do,” Darden wrote for the panel.
“Based on the foregoing, and because the second and third factors of the incredible dubiosity rule are not met or satisfied in this case, we conclude that the ‘incredible dubiosity rule’ does not apply, and C.N.’s testimony was sufficient to support Smith’s Level 4 felony child molesting conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”