Com. v. Pankraz

CourtSuperior Court of Pennsylvania
Writing for the CourtWIEAND
Citation554 A.2d 974,382 Pa.Super. 116
Decision Date08 March 1989
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania v. Robert M. PANKRAZ, Appellant.

Page 974

554 A.2d 974
382 Pa.Super. 116
COMMONWEALTH of Pennsylvania
v.
Robert M. PANKRAZ, Appellant.
Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
Argued Jan. 9, 1989.
Filed March 8, 1989.

Page 975

[382 Pa.Super. 118] David L. Shenkle, Doylestown, for appellant.

Stephen B. Harris, Asst. Dist. Atty., Warrington, for Com., appellee.

Before WIEAND, MONTEMURO and HOFFMAN, JJ.

WIEAND, Judge:

Robert M. Pankraz was tried by jury and was found guilty of simple assault, 1 indecent assault, 2 corruption of a minor, 3 recklessly endangering another person 4 and endangering the welfare of a child. 5 Post-trial motions were denied, and Pankraz was sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment for not less than two and one-half (2 1/2) years nor more than five (5) years. On direct appeal from the judgment of sentence, Pankraz contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the findings of guilt, that the alleged victim was incompetent to testify because of her age, and that she should not have been allowed to be seated in her grandmother's lap while testifying. We find no merit in these arguments and affirm the judgment of sentence.

[382 Pa.Super. 119] Amy Hayes, the daughter of appellant, was four years of age at the time of the trial. She testified that, on an occasion prior to the time when she had gone to

Page 976

live with her maternal grandmother in October, 1986, appellant had repeatedly inserted a sharp object, which she believed to be a screwdriver or knife, into her vagina. With the assistance of an anatomically correct doll and a pen she was able to demonstrate the assault which had been made upon her by appellant. Her testimony was corroborated in part by Dr. Cynthia A. Briede, who had examined the child and found a "skin tag" in her vaginal tract. The doctor explained that the skin tag was not of recent origin, that the tag was the result of a scarring process following a trauma to the vaginal tract, and that much of the healing process had occurred. The injury, she said, was consistent with the placing of a screwdriver or knife in the child's vagina. The doctor also ruled out as possible causes a birth defect, a congenital defect, an infection, or the falling from a bicycle or bed. She concluded: "What I can say with certainty is that it would have to have been some sort of trauma to cause a tearing or a laceration of the mucosa, that there was injury to the mucosa probably with some bleeding at that time which has since healed and where the tissue came back together, it's caused a scar."

The child's testimony was also corroborated in part by her paternal and maternal grandmothers. While her diaper was being changed, the child told her paternal grandmother that "my daddy hurts me here" and placed her finger on her vagina. Her maternal grandmother testified that while Amy had been at her house she complained about soreness in the area of her vagina and that a visual examination had disclosed the area to be red and sore.

Appellant asks that we review the sufficiency of the evidence after eliminating the testimony of the child who, he contends, was an incompetent witness. It is well settled, however, that in determining the sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict, we are required to consider all evidence actually received, whether the trial court's rulings [382 Pa.Super. 120] on evidence were correct or incorrect. See: Commonwealth v. Manhart, 349 Pa.Super. 552, 556, 503 A.2d 986, 988 (1986); Commonwealth v. Nelson, 320 Pa.Super. 488, 494, 467 A.2d 638, 641 (1983); Commonwealth v. Minnis, 312 Pa.Super. 53, 55, 458 A.2d 231, 232 (1983). When all the evidence is examined in the instant case, it is clear that it was sufficient to support the verdict.

Appellant contends also that inserting a knife or screwdriver into the vagina of a child does not constitute corruption of a minor. It does not constitute a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6301, he argues, because "[i]t is obvious that the activity alleged did not give the child the sort of illicit pleasure which might tend to corrupt." (Appellant's brief at p. 3). We disagree.

Corruption of minors is defined by statute as follows:

(a) Offense defined.--Whoever, being of the age of 18 years and upwards, by any act corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any minor less than 18 years of age, or who aids, abets, entices or encourages any such minor in the commission of any crime, or who knowingly assists or encourages such minor in violating his or her parole or any order of court, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

18 Pa.C.S. § 6301(a) (emphasis added). In construing this statute, the Superior Court has said:

[T]he Commonwealth need not prove that the defendant's acts actually corrupted the minor's morals, but only that they tended to do so. See e.g. Commonwealth v. Davison, 243 Pa.Super. 12, 14 n. 1, 364 A.2d 425, 426 n. 1 (1976). Nor is the Commonwealth required to prove any particular sort or number of acts. In Commonwealth v. Mezaros, 194 Pa.Super. 462, 168 A.2d 781 (1961), this court said:

'Tending to Corrupt' like 'contributing to delinquency' is a broad term involving conduct toward a child in an unlimited variety of ways which tends to produce or to encourage or to continue conduct of the child which would amount to delinquent conduct: Commonwealth v. Stroik, 175 Pa.Super. 10, 15, 102 A.2d 239 [1954]; [382 Pa.Super. 121] Commonwealth

Page 977

v. Palmer, 192 Pa.Super. 607, 609, 162 A.2d 34 [1960].

Thus, in Commonwealth v. Doyle, 275 Pa.Super. , 418 A.2d 1336 (1979) we affirmed a conviction of corruption of a minor where the basis for the charge was various acts of deviate sexual intercourse. See also Commonwealth v. White, 232 Pa.Super. 176, 335 A.2d 436 (1975) (conviction of corruption of minors where defendant attempted sexual assault of young girl). The point is extensively discussed in Commonwealth v. Randall, 183 Pa.Super. 603, 133 A.2d 276 (1957), cert. denied, 355 U.S. 954, 78 S.Ct. 539, 2 L.Ed.2d 530 (1958). There the defendant argued that the predecessor of the present statute was so vague as to violate due process. In upholding the statute, this court, ERVIN, J., stated:

The comprehensive words of the statute, "Whoever, being of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, by any act corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any child under the age of eighteen years" certainly convey concrete impressions to the ordinary person. The common sense of the community, as well as the sense of decency, propriety and the morality which most people entertain is sufficient to apply the statute to each particular case, and to individuate what particular conduct is rendered criminal by it.

Id. 183 Pa.Super. at 611, 133 A.2d at 280.

Commonwealth v. Wolff, 273 Pa.Super. 27, 31-32, 416 A.2d 1072, 1074 (1979), overruled on other grounds, Commonwealth v. Anderson, --- Pa.Super. ----, 550 A.2d 807 (1988) (en banc). See also: Commonwealth v. Mumma, 489 Pa. 547, 555, 414 A.2d 1026, 1030 (1980); Commonwealth v. Todd, 348 Pa.Super. 453, 462 n. 2, 502 A.2d 631, 635-636 n. 2 (1985); Commonwealth v. Burak, 232 Pa.Super. 499, 504-505, 335 A.2d 820, 822 (1975); Commonwealth v. White, 232 Pa.Super. 176, 183, 335 A.2d 436, 439 (1975).

We reject appellant's argument that his conduct could not have corrupted or tended to corrupt his daughter because it was not the kind of conduct which would have aroused or [382 Pa.Super. 122] satisfied a sexual desire on the part of the child. As a matter of "[t]he common sense of the community, as well as the sense of decency, propriety and the morality which most people entertain," Commonwealth v. Randall, 183 Pa.Super. 603, 611, 133...

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28 practice notes
  • State v. Dye, No. 87929–0.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • September 26, 2013
    ...N.E.2d 1105, 1114 (Ind.Ct.App.1989), overruled on other grounds by Smith v. State, 689 N.E.2d 1238 (Ind.1997); Commonwealth v. Pankraz, 382 Pa.Super. 116, 125–26, 554 A.2d 974 (1989); State v. Dompier, 94 Or.App. 258, 261, 764 P.2d 979 (1988); State v. Johnson, 38 Ohio App.3d 152, 154, 528 ......
  • Com. v. Sanchez
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 3, 1992
    ...actually received, whether the trial court's rulings on evidence were correct or incorrect.' " Id., quoting Commonwealth v. Pankraz, 382 Pa.Super. 116, 119-120, 554 A.2d 974, 976 (1989). See also: Commonwealth v. Smith, 523 Pa. 577, 582, 568 A.2d 600, 602-603 (1989); Commonwealth v. Manhart......
  • Com. v. Dunkle
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 22, 1992
    ...courts have allowed more latitude in the elicitation of testimony from children than from adults. See e.g., Commonwealth v. Pankraz, 382 Pa.Super. 116, 554 A.2d 974 (1989), appeal denied, 522 Pa. 618, 563 A.2d 887 (1989) (permitting four year old victim of father's sexual abuse to testify w......
  • State v. Rochelle, Nos. 101,341
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 12, 2013
    ...by and held hand of 7-year-old child during testimony; within trial court's discretion and no showing of clear abuse); Com. v. Pankraz, 382 Pa.Super. 116, 125–27, 554 A.2d 974 (1989) (trial court has broad discretion to conduct trial; no error in permitting 4-year-old child to testify in gr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
28 cases
  • State v. Dye, No. 87929–0.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • September 26, 2013
    ...N.E.2d 1105, 1114 (Ind.Ct.App.1989), overruled on other grounds by Smith v. State, 689 N.E.2d 1238 (Ind.1997); Commonwealth v. Pankraz, 382 Pa.Super. 116, 125–26, 554 A.2d 974 (1989); State v. Dompier, 94 Or.App. 258, 261, 764 P.2d 979 (1988); State v. Johnson, 38 Ohio App.3d 152, 154, 528 ......
  • Com. v. Sanchez
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 3, 1992
    ...actually received, whether the trial court's rulings on evidence were correct or incorrect.' " Id., quoting Commonwealth v. Pankraz, 382 Pa.Super. 116, 119-120, 554 A.2d 974, 976 (1989). See also: Commonwealth v. Smith, 523 Pa. 577, 582, 568 A.2d 600, 602-603 (1989); Commonwealth v. Manhart......
  • Com. v. Dunkle
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • January 22, 1992
    ...courts have allowed more latitude in the elicitation of testimony from children than from adults. See e.g., Commonwealth v. Pankraz, 382 Pa.Super. 116, 554 A.2d 974 (1989), appeal denied, 522 Pa. 618, 563 A.2d 887 (1989) (permitting four year old victim of father's sexual abuse to testify w......
  • State v. Rochelle, Nos. 101,341
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • April 12, 2013
    ...by and held hand of 7-year-old child during testimony; within trial court's discretion and no showing of clear abuse); Com. v. Pankraz, 382 Pa.Super. 116, 125–27, 554 A.2d 974 (1989) (trial court has broad discretion to conduct trial; no error in permitting 4-year-old child to testify in gr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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