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Graham v. United States

February 10, 2000


Before Farrell and Ruiz, Associate Judges, and Gallagher, Senior Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gallagher, Senior Judge

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

(Hon. Robert I. Richter, Trial Judge)

Argued February 16, 1999

After a jury trial, appellant Alvalonze Graham was convicted of three counts of first degree sexual abuse, D.C. Code § 22-4102 (1995 Repl.), three counts of first degree child sexual abuse, D.C. Code § 22-4108 (1995 Repl.), four counts of rape and unlawful carnal knowledge, D.C. Code § 22-2801 (1994 Supp.),*fn1 one count of obstruction of justice, D.C. Code § 22-722 (a)(2)(A) (1995 Repl.), and four counts of taking indecent liberties with a child, D.C. Code § 22-3501 (a) (1994 Supp.).*fn2 Graham appeals contending: (1) the trial court erred when it admitted statements Graham made to a social worker; (2) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of "other crimes" not charged; and (3) the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction of rape and unlawful carnal knowledge. We affirm.

I. Facts

The complaining witness, T.G., provided graphic detail of how Graham began sexually abusing her when she was six years old. During this time, Graham threatened to kill T.G. if she told anyone of the abuse. T.G. considered Graham to be her stepfather, as Graham had lived with T.G.'s mother since T.G. was one year old.

Graham first engaged in actual intercourse with T.G. in October 1994, when she was twelve years old. Prior to that time, the sexual abuse fell short of intercourse. Graham forced T.G. to comply by hitting her with his hand, and told T.G. not to tell anyone of this incident. Between October 1994 and March 1996 (the date when Graham had left the household), Graham engaged in intercourse with T.G. on a weekly or monthly basis.

The relationship between T.G.'s mother and Graham deteriorated, and Graham left the household on March 3, 1996. Graham reconciled with T.G.'s mother, and moved back into the household sometime in the middle of March. On March 25, 1996, T.G. told her mother that Graham had sexually molested her. The next day, while T.G. was in school, her mother informed other family members of the alleged abuse. T.G. went to her uncle's house that night, and her aunt informed the police of the abuse. Meanwhile, Graham got into an argument with the nephew of T.G.'s mother, and left the household.

On March 27, 1996, Graham was scheduled to appear in the Family Division of the Superior Court in connection with a request for a restraining order that had previously been filed by T.G.'s mother. At that time, Graham learned from his lawyer of T.G.'s accusations of sexual abuse. That night, Graham decided to go to a homeless shelter in Northeast Washington. Graham testified that he could not stay with his grandmother because she had no room for him. Graham further testified that he made no attempt to see if he could stay with either his mother or his aunt, both of whom lived in the District.

On March 28, 1996, Graham made an appointment to speak with Raymond Patterson, a social worker with Health Care for the Homeless. Patterson was associated with a homeless shelter on Fourteenth Street in Northwest Washington. Graham and Patterson spoke the next day. Graham testified that this interview was required before he could enter the homeless shelter in Northwest Washington. Graham had had his vocal cords surgically removed about one year prior to the interview because of throat cancer, and responded to Patterson's questions by writing answers on a pad of paper.

When asked why he came to the clinic, Graham responded by writing, "I used drugs, beer and my kids to kill the pIn [sic]." Patterson asked if Graham meant "pain" when he wrote "pIn." Graham responded affirmatively. Patterson asked to clarify what he meant by that. Graham hesitated, then wrote, "I sex abuse one and . . . the other . . . ."*fn3

Patterson asked when was the last time Graham sexually abused anyone. Graham wrote, "three months ago." Graham then wrote, "Me and [T.G.] sex active to each other for seven or eight year." After another question, Graham wrote, "Me and [T.G.] sat down one night when [T.G.'s mother was not home] and talk it over. Me and [T.G.] feel good about it. She was open and I was, too. Me and her can sit down and talk about sex without no problem. She can['t] talk to her, just me. I try to take care of it myself."

Patterson spoke with his supervisor about this conversation. On March 29, 1996, Patterson informed Graham that he would have to report the incident to the police. Graham nodded and shrugged his shoulders.

A grand jury indicted Graham on June 4, 1996. Before the trial, Graham filed a motion to prohibit the government from introducing any evidence of sexual abuse of T.G. that was not charged in the indictment. The government proffered that T.G. would testify that sexual abuse had been occurring since she was six years old. The motion was denied. Graham then moved to suppress ...

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