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P.J. v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

May 29, 2019

P.J., Appellant
v.
STATE of Arkansas, Appellee

Page 308

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 309

          APPEAL FROM THE CLAY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT [NOS. 11CJV-18-12; 11CJV-18-13; 11CJV-18-14], HONORABLE RICHARD LUSBY, JUDGE

          Terry Goodwin Jones, for appellant.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att’y Gen., by: Chris R. Warthen, Ass’t Att’y Gen., for appellee.

         OPINION

         KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge

          The Clay County Circuit Court adjudicated appellant P.J. a juvenile delinquent on three counts, finding that he committed one count of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of third-degree assault. P.J. was fifteen years old when these acts allegedly occurred, and there were three separate victims. The trial court placed P.J. on one year probation and ordered him to complete forty hours of community service. On appeal, P.J. argues that there was insufficient evidence to support the delinquency adjudications. We affirm.

         Pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-125(a)(1) (Supp. 2017), a person commits second-degree sexual assault if the person engages in sexual contact with another person by forcible compulsion. "Sexual contact" means any act of sexual gratification involving the touching, directly or through clothing, of the sex organs, buttocks, or anus of a person or the breast of a female. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-14-101(11) (Supp. 2017). Pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. § 5-13-207(a) (Repl. 2013), a person commits third-degree assault if he purposely creates apprehension of imminent physical injury in another person.

          In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence in a delinquency case, we apply the same standard of review as in criminal cases; that is, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, considering only the proof that tends to support the finding of guilt. T.R. v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 328, 552 S.W.3d 452. We will affirm if the adjudication is supported by substantial evidence, which is evidence that is of sufficient force and character to compel a conclusion one way or the other without resorting to speculation or conjecture. Id. In considering the evidence presented below, we will not weigh the evidence or assess the credibility of witnesses, because those are questions for the factfinder. J.N.A. v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 502, 532 S.W.3d 582.

          M.C., a thirteen-year-old girl, was the alleged victim of the second-degree sexual assault. M.C. testified that she met P.J. in the school band and that they started liking each other. M.C. stated that it "went into a whole new category" when P.J. would touch her breasts or her butt. On the night of a basketball game, M.C. was coming back from the band room when she ran into P.J. in a courtyard outside of the gymnasium. According to M.C., P.J. tried to kiss her and she told him "no." Then P.J. shoved her against a brick wall. M.C. tried to push him off her, but P.J. kept shoving himself on her. Then P.J. put his left hand on her shoulder and shoved his right hand down her pants. M.C. testified that P.J. touched the inside of her vagina. M.C. stated that she did not want him to do that and that she kept telling him to stop.

          M.F., a fourteen-year-old girl, was the alleged victim of one of the third-degree assaults. M.F. went to school with P.J. and

Page 310

they were friends. M.F. testified that they would sometimes walk together and that P.J. would grab her butt, causing her to jump. When she would jump, P.J. would do it again to see if she would jump again. P.J. would also touch her on her breasts and her vagina, and M.F. would tell him to stop or move his hand, making it very clear that she did not want that contact. On one occasion in a park, M.F. was walking on leaves, and P.J. told her that if she kept doing it he would hit her on her butt and that it would hurt. P.J. hit her on her ...


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