Lorusso v. State, A-13802

CourtCourt of Appeals of Alaska
PartiesGARY J. LORUSSO, Appellant, v. STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.
Docket NumberA-13802
Decision Date21 September 2022

GARY J. LORUSSO, Appellant,


No. A-13802

Court of Appeals of Alaska

September 21, 2022

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d)

Appeal from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District Trial Court No. 3PA-18-01240 CI, Palmer, John C. Cagle, Judge.

Wallace Tetlow, Tetlow Christie, LLC, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

Michal Stryszak, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Treg R. Taylor, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

Before: Allard, Chief Judge, and Harbison and Terrell, Judges.


Gary J. LoRusso appeals the denial of his application for post-conviction relief. LoRusso was convicted, following a jury trial, of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor for having sex with sixteen-year-old D.J. while in a position of authority over her.[1]This Court affirmed LoRusso's conviction on direct appeal.[2]


LoRusso filed an application for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. LoRusso's claim was based on the fact that his trial attorney elicited testimony that LoRusso had previously been accused of having sex with other young girls and that he had previously cheated on his wife.

During direct examination, D.J.'s mother testified that she had confronted LoRusso with the allegations of abuse involving D.J., and that LoRusso never denied those allegations. On cross-examination, LoRusso's attorney asked D.J.'s mother to admit that LoRusso had, in fact, denied the allegations, including saying "Holy cow, no! No, none of that is true," and "I don't see how [D.J.] gets off saying all this stuff that's not true." The witness admitted LoRusso said these things, but she testified that this was only after she accused him of having sex with other young girls. This allegation - that LoRusso had had sex with other young girls - was brought up again when LoRusso testified in his own defense and his attorney asked him to explain the context of his denials. As part of this explanation, LoRusso testified that he had told D.J. he had cheated on his wife but that this was with someone his age.

In response to LoRusso's post-conviction relief application, his trial attorney submitted an affidavit explaining that he made a tactical decision to introduce the fact that LoRusso had denied D.J.'s allegations in order to avoid the appearance that LoRusso was denying the accusations for the first time at trial. He concluded that it...

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