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Malone v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

October 29, 2014

Malone
v.
State

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. NO. CR-2011-104. HONORABLE DAVID G. HENRY, JUDGE.

The Mullenix Firm, PLLC, by: D. Ryan Mullenix, for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Karen Virginia Wallace, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

ROBIN F. WYNNE, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and PITTMAN, J., agree.

OPINION

Page 198

ROBIN F. WYNNE, Judge

Clifford Malone appeals from his conviction for rape. He argues on appeal that the State failed to prove that he was the victim's guardian, which is a necessary element of the offense as charged. We affirm.

Appellant was charged with one count of rape. The criminal information alleged that on or about May 30, 2011, he engaged in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with a minor and that he was the victim's guardian. A person commits the offense of rape if he or she engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual activity with another person who is a minor and the actor is the victim's guardian. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-103(a)(4)(A)(i) (Repl. 2013). For the purposes of section 5-14-103, " guardian" means a parent, stepparent, legal guardian, legal custodian, foster parent, or any person who by virtue of a living arrangement is placed in an apparent position of power or authority over a minor. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-101(3) (Repl. 2013).

At trial, the victim, A.H., who was seventeen at the time of trial, testified that on May 30, 2011, appellant told her to remove her clothes. She testified that she did what he told her to do, and he rubbed lotion on her breasts, buttocks, and vaginal area. He also put his finger inside her vagina. A.H. and appellant were alone in the house at that time.

Tina Woolridge, A.H.'s mother, testified that A.H.'s father had custody of her since 1998 and that she exercised visitation with A.H. either every weekend or every other weekend. A.H. would stay at Ms. Woolridge's home during the entire weekend of visitation. At the time of the offense, appellant was Ms. Woolridge's boyfriend and was living with her in the home they shared. Ms. Woolridge estimated that by May 2011, she had been exercising visitation with A.H. for about a year. Ms. Woolridge testified that there were two or three occasions on which she left A.H. alone with appellant while she went to work. According to Ms. Woolridge, appellant was responsible for A.H.'s care while she was not there. A.H. testified that appellant was with her every time she was at the house and her mother was not there. A.H.'s grandmother lived near her mother, and A.H. had to tell appellant if she was going to her grandmother's house if Ms. Woolridge was not there so that he would know where she was.

After the State rested, appellant moved for a directed verdict, arguing that the State failed to prove that he was A.H.'s guardian. The trial court denied the motion, stating that " if there was some protection or decision that needed to be made, he was an adult on the scene with apparent authority to make that-to make that call." Appellant took the stand and denied committing the offense. He also stated that there were times during which he would supervise A.H. while Ms. Woolridge was at work. At the close of all of the evidence, appellant renewed his motion for directed verdict, which was denied.

The jury found appellant guilty of rape. The trial court sentenced appellant to 120 months' imprisonment in the Arkansas Department of Correction. This appeal followed.

Appellant's sole argument on appeal is that the State failed to prove that he was A.H.'s guardian for the purposes of section 5-14-103. As stated above, the applicable definition of the term " guardian" includes any person who by ...


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