County 15-F-65, 15-F-66
A.C., by counsel Jeremiah L. Gardner, appeals
his convictions for the offenses of sexual abuse by a parent,
guardian, custodian, or person in a position of trust, and
first degree sexual abuse. The State of West Virginia, by
counsel Benjamin F. Yancey, III, filed a response.
Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record
on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately
presented, and the decisional process would not be
significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of
the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented,
the Court finds no substantial question of law and no
prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision
affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under
Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
November of 2015, a Marshall County grand jury indicted
petitioner on four counts of sexual abuse by a parent,
guardian, custodian, or a person in a position of trust to a
child (Counts one through four), and five counts of first
degree sexual abuse (Counts five through nine) against M.R.,
a minor. In a separate indictment, petitioner was charged
with one count of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian,
custodian or a person in a position of trust to a child, and
one count of first degree sexual abuse against M.C., also a
minor. Petitioner chose to have both indictments tried
together, and was found guilty on all counts in both
evidence at trial revealed that in 1995, an Ohio court
granted petitioner's wife, C.C., legal custody of M.R.,
and her brother, J.M.R. C.C. married petitioner in 1998 in
West Virginia. The family moved to several states, including
Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Ohio. However, M.R.'s school
records indicate that from 1997 until 2011, M.R.
predominantly resided in Marshall County, West Virginia.
testified that petitioner first sexually abused her when she
was eight or nine years old, while living in Pennsylvania.
M.R. testified that petitioner and C.C. held her down and
that petitioner rubbed her vagina and masturbated. M.R.
testified that the first time this occurred she cooperated
because she did not know what was going on. M.R. stated that
later, she would attempt to fight back, but that C.C. or
petitioner would strike her with a fiberglass CB antenna when
she did. M.R. testified that this type of abuse continued
2003, the family resided in West Virginia, in the Nixon Ridge
area of Marshall County. M.R. testified that the abuse
continued there, and that from the time she was eleven until
she turned twelve, petitioner would rub her vagina, perform
oral sex on her, and masturbate. M.R. testified that this
occurred every week, or every other week, and on the weeks it
occurred, it happened as many as four times per week. M.R.
testified that petitioner would tell her, "You're
going to be mine;" and that C.C. would often tell her
that she was going to be petitioner's wife when she got
family moved to the Taylor's Ridge area of Marshall
County, where the abuse continued. M.R. testified that there
were a lot of people staying in and out of that home, and as
a result the abuse occurred less frequently. M.R. testified
that when the abuse occurred it would happen two or three
times during one week. M.R. testified that she did not tell
anyone because she was scared. M.R. stated that the abuse
stopped when she was fifteen, in 2007, and did not start
again until she was twenty-three.
2007, M.C., petitioner's other victim, moved into
petitioner's home with her mother A.B. A.B. was involved
in a romantic relationship with petitioner and C.C. A.B.
eventually moved out of the home, leaving M.C. in petitioner
and C.C.'s care. M.R. testified that she took over most
of the duties regarding M.C.'s care, including bathing
and grooming, and taking her to school. M.C. testified that
petitioner sexually abused her once, in 2015, when she was
eight years old, touching her vagina.
2015, M.R. testified that she woke and found petitioner
touching her vagina. M.R. yelled, and C.C. woke up and yelled
for petitioner to stop. After this incident, in March of
2015, M.R. snuck out of the home, and went to a police
station and reported the sexual abuse to the Marshall County
Sheriff's Department. M.R. also reported that petitioner
grabbed her and asked her for a sexual favor, and that when
she refused, he slammed her against a wall. Based upon this
complaint, petitioner was charged with domestic battery. Days
later, M.R. sought and was granted an emergency domestic
violence protective order against petitioner.
Zachary Allman of the Marshall County Sheriff's
Department investigated the sexual abuse claims. Detective
Allman interviewed M.R. at the end of March of 2015, at which
time, M.R. disclosed the verbal, physical, and sexual abuse
she experienced from petitioner and C.C. Detective Allman
also arranged for M.R. to be interviewed at Harmony House, a
Child Advocacy Center. M.R. recounted the abuse to a
counselor there, in an interview observed by Detective
Allman. In April of 2015, Detective Allman interviewed C.C.
and petitioner. C.C. denied any abuse. Petitioner initially
denied the abuse, but ultimately admitted that approximately
one year before he "did rub [M.R.'s] [vagina]
through a blanket." In July of 2015, Detective Allman
arrested petitioner for the offense of sexual abuse by a
parent guardian or custodian.
M.R. reported the abuse to the Sheriff's Department, M.C.
was removed from the home for her protection, and placed in
foster care. In April/May of 2015, M.C. was receiving
services from a Court Appointed Special Advocate, Susan
Harrison, and disclosed that petitioner sexually abused her
when she was living with him. M.C. stated that petitioner
touched her vagina. Susan Harrison reported this disclosure
to Detective Allman, who interviewed M.C. M.C. disclosed the
same to Detective Allman.
a Marshall County Grand Jury returned the aforementioned
indictments against petitioner. Petitioner's trial took
place on May 16-17, 2016. The State and defendant presented
witnesses; petitioner did not testify on his own behalf.
Petitioner was convicted on all counts.
of 2016, in Case No. 15-F-66, where M.C. was listed as the
victim, petitioner was sentenced to ten to twenty years in
the penitentiary for his conviction of sexual abuse by a
guardian, and five to twenty-five years for his conviction of
first degree sexual abuse. In Case No. 15-F-65, where M.R.
was listed as the victim, petitioner was sentenced to four
concurrent terms of ten to twenty years in the penitentiary
for his conviction of sexual abuse by a guardian, and four
concurrent terms of five to twenty-five years in the
penitentiary for his convictions of first degree sexual
abuse. Petitioner was sentenced to not less than one year,
nor more than five for his conviction of first degree sexual
abuse. The sentences for the two convictions were ...