Evidence Sufficient to Support Count Charging Sexual Abuse First Degree, Despite Evidence Defendant Did Not Touch the Victim for the Purpose of Gratifying Sexual Desire
The Fourth Department determined the evidence presented to the grand jury was sufficient to support the count charging sexual abuse in the first degree. The issue was whether there was sufficient evidence defendant touched the victim for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire. Based upon what the defendant said at the time, the purpose of his touching the victim was to determine whether she had recently had sex with another. The court explained the level of proof required at the grand jury stage:
” Legally sufficient evidence' means competent evidence which, if accepted as true, would establish every element of an offense charged and the defendant's commission thereof” (CPL 70.10 ). Thus, “[o]n a motion to dismiss an indictment based on legally insufficient evidence, the issue is whether the evidence before the [g]rand [j]ury establishes a prima facie case” … . In deciding a motion to dismiss a count of an indictment for legally insufficient evidence, a “reviewing court's inquiry is limited to whether the facts, if proven, and the inferences that logically flow from those facts supply proof of every element of the charged crime,' and whether the [g]rand [j]ury could rationally have drawn the guilty inference' . . . That other, innocent inferences could possibly be drawn from those facts is irrelevant to the sufficiency inquiry as long as the [g]rand [j]ury could rationally have drawn the guilty inference' ” … .
As relevant here, “[a] person is guilty of sexual abuse in the first degree when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact . . . [b]y forcible compulsion” (Penal Law § 130.65 ), and sexual contact is defined as “any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either party” (§ 130.00 ). Consequently, the People were required to submit sufficient evidence from which the grand jury could have inferred that defendant touched the victim's vagina for the purpose of gratifying his or the victim's sexual desire. It is well settled that, “[b]ecause the question of whether a person was seeking sexual gratification is generally a subjective inquiry, it can be inferred from the conduct of the perpetrator” … . Here, we conclude that the evidence before the grand jury, viewed in the light most favorable to the People, was sufficient to permit the grand jury to infer that defendant touched the sexual and intimate parts of the victim's body by forcible compulsion for the purpose of gratifying his sexual desire … . To require, as defendant suggests, that the reviewing court accept the explanation that defendant proffered for his conduct, “would skew a reviewing court's inquiry and restrict, if not extinguish, the [g]rand [j]ury's unassailable authority to consider logical inferences that flow from the facts presented to it” … . People v Hoffert, 2015 NY Slip Op 01083, 4th Dept 2-6-15