Sampson v. State, No. 87S01–1410–CR–684.

Docket NºNo. 87S01–1410–CR–684.
Citation38 N.E.3d 985
Case DateJuly 30, 2015

38 N.E.3d 985

Craig SAMPSON, Appellant (Defendant below)
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).

No. 87S01–1410–CR–684.

Supreme Court of Indiana.

July 30, 2015.


38 N.E.3d 986

Michael C. Keating, Keating & LaPlante, LLP, Evansville, IN, Attorney for Appellant.

38 N.E.3d 987

Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Ryan D. Johanningsmeier, Deputy Attorney General, Eric P. Babbs, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellee.

On Petition To Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 87A01–1312–CR–534.

RUCKER, Justice.

Craig Sampson appeals his conviction for child molesting contending it must be vacated and this cause remanded for a new trial because, among other things, improper vouching testimony was allowed into evidence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Facts and Procedural History

S.B. and her family were members of the Tennyson Free Methodist Church in Warrick County where S.B.'s father served as pastor. Craig Sampson—a family friend—was also a member of the church. Over the years that Sampson attended the church, it was not uncommon for S.B. to sit near him during church services, “[s]ometimes next to him and sometimes on his lap.” Tr. at 35. S.B.'s entire family sometimes visited the Sampson home and there were also times on the weekends when S.B. visited the home with only Sampson and his wife present. S.B. considered Sampson a “friend” and they would do “a lot of things together.” Tr. at 35.

In the spring or summer of 2008 or 2009, when S.B. would have been nine or ten years of age, she visited Sampson's home after church. While Sampson's wife took a nap, fifty-two to fifty-three-year-old Sampson watched television and S.B. sat at a computer playing games. At some point Sampson asked S.B. to get up from the computer so that he could sit down. S.B. then sat on Sampson's lap and asked Sampson to scratch her back in a spot that itched. According to S.B., Sampson began rubbing her back under her shirt and then “slowly moved to the front of [her] body, into [her] pants.” Tr. at 49. S.B. testified that Sampson rubbed her stomach and then moved his hands inside her pants and under her underwear. When Sampson touched S.B. in her vaginal area she felt a “tingling sensation.” Tr. at 54. At that point S.B. asked Sampson to stop, and “[h]e slowly took his hand out.” Tr. at 54. Sampson told S.B. not to tell her parents or he would be in trouble.

S.B. did not tell anyone about the incident until two or three years later. Specifically, during the summer of 2011 S.B. attended a week-long church camp during which she was in a group that discussed sexual purity. Among other things attendees were advised “[i]f someone were to touch you that doesn't make you feel comfortable then you need to tell someone because it's illegal.” Tr. at 56. S.B. then told her parents about the incident involving Sampson who in turn contacted the authorities. An investigation ensued. After obtaining preliminary information an officer from the Warrick County Sheriff's Office referred S.B. and her parents to “Holly's House” in Evansville, which was described as a “child and adult advocacy center ... an interview location and a resource location for alleged victims and of [sic] victims of intimate crimes.” Tr. at 111. Jenny Wood, the former associate director and child forensic interviewer at Holly's House conducted a forensic interview1 of S.B., during which S.B. recounted the incident with Sampson.

38 N.E.3d 988

On January 21, 2012 the State charged Sampson with child molesting as a class C felony. A jury trial began on November 26, 2012 but ended when the trial court declared a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. A second jury trial began on October 21, 2013. Over Sampson's objection Wood was allowed to provide testimony concerning Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome.2 Without objection, Wood also testified she was trained to detect signs of coaching during a forensic interview and that she did not observe any signs that S.B. had been coached. S.B. also testified; and over Sampson's objection she responded to the State's inquiry of how the incident with Sampson affected her, which Sampson characterized as impermissible victim impact testimony. The jury returned a verdict against Sampson of guilty as charged. The trial court thereafter sentenced him to four years imprisonment, with one year executed at the Warrick County Security Center and three years suspended to probation.

Sampson appealed contending: (1) the trial court erred in admitting evidence concerning Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome; (2) admission of testimony that the interviewer did not observe signs of coaching was fundamental error; and (3) the trial court erred in allowing alleged victim impact testimony. In a memorandum decision the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the trial court concluding that with respect to issues one and three error if any was harmless. And as for issue two there was no error, let alone fundamental error. See Sampson v. State, No. 87A01–1312–CR–534, 2014 WL 4064580 (Ind.Ct.App. Aug. 18, 2014), vacated, We previously granted transfer to explore issue number two. In all other respects we summarily affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals. See Ind. App. R. 58(A)(2). Additional facts are set forth below.

Discussion

During direct examination the exchange between the State and witness Jenny Wood was as follows:

Q. What does the term coaching mean to you?
A. Coaching is a term used in forensic interviewing where someone has told a child what to say and typically it's somebody close to the child and it's usually an untrue statement.
Q. Have you been trained in looking for signs of coaching?
A. Yes.
Q. Okay and have you ever conducted an interview where you believed that a person had been coached?
A. Yes.
Q. What are some signs that if observed might lead you to believe that a witness or a child had been coached?
A. Typically individuals who have been coached can't recall details because they have not been told details when they were coached to tell a statement. They may have not be [sic] able to answer questions that go beyond what
38 N.E.3d 989
their statement-the statement that they know about, such as where did it happen, was there anybody with you, so more detail oriented questions, somebody who had been victimized could typically answer but since they were coached they could not because that information was not shared with them.
Q. During your interview with [S.B.], did you observe any signs that she had been coached?
A. No.

Tr. at 124–25.

Sampson did not object to this line of questioning. On appeal he complains, “[t]estimony that the alleged victim showed no evidence of coaching constituted improper vouching for the alleged victim's credibility.” Pet. to Trans. at 2. According to Sampson such testimony violates Ind. Evidence Rule 704(b)3 and contravenes this Court's opinion in Hoglund v. State, 962 N.E.2d 1230 (Ind.2012).

In Hoglund, the defendant was convicted of sexually molesting his daughter, A.H., until she was nearly eight years old. At trial the State presented the testimony of three expert witnesses. “In varying degrees of specificity, each witness essentially testified that A.H. was ‘not prone to exaggerate or fantasize’ concerning sexual matters.” Id. at 1232. We concluded that the trial court erred in allowing the testimony of these three expert witnesses because “indirect vouching testimony is little different than testimony that the child witness is telling the truth. As such it is at odds with Evidence Rule 704(b).” Id. at 1237 (footnote omitted). We “decline[d] to carve out an exception to the rule for sex abuse cases.” Id. (footnote omitted). And we reiterated the longstanding rule that “no witness, whether lay or expert, is competent to testify that another witness is or is not telling the truth.” Id. at 1238 (alteration omitted) (quotations omitted).

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31 practice notes
  • Wilder v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 49A02–1706–CR–1420
    • United States
    • January 9, 2018
    ...rebuttal evidence otherwise would have been inadmissible. See Clark v. State , 915 N.E.2d 126, 130, 131 (Ind. 2009). Sampson v. State , 38 N.E.3d 985, 992 n.4 (Ind. 2015). Evidence which opens the door "must leave the trier of fact with a false or misleading impression of the facts related.......
  • People v. Heredia-Cobos, Court of Appeals No. 15CA1425
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • October 19, 2017
    ...witness had been coached, the defense opens the door to testimony that the witness didn't appear to have been coached. Sampson v. State , 38 N.E.3d 985, 991-92 (Ind. 2015) (testimony by an interviewer as to whether a child witness showed signs of having been coached is admissible if the def......
  • Fallin v. State, No. 79, Sept. Term, 2017
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 12, 2018
    ...is insufficient to guard against the dangers that such 460 Md. 158testimony will constitute impermissible vouching." Sampson v. State , 38 N.E.3d 985, 991-92 (Ind. S. Ct. 2015) (emphasis in original).12 In this regard, it is instructive to compare the evidence derived from a polygraph exami......
  • Hastings v. State, No. 29A02–1507–CR–982.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • June 21, 2016
    ...to the trial court's procedure below, Hastings must argue that the trial court's procedure was fundamental error. See Sampson v. State, 38 N.E.3d 985, 992 (Ind.2015) (noting that the failure to object at trial waives the issue for review unless fundamental error occurred). The fundamental e......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • Wilder v. State, Court of Appeals Case No. 49A02–1706–CR–1420
    • United States
    • January 9, 2018
    ...rebuttal evidence otherwise would have been inadmissible. See Clark v. State , 915 N.E.2d 126, 130, 131 (Ind. 2009). Sampson v. State , 38 N.E.3d 985, 992 n.4 (Ind. 2015). Evidence which opens the door "must leave the trier of fact with a false or misleading impression of the facts related.......
  • People v. Heredia-Cobos, Court of Appeals No. 15CA1425
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • October 19, 2017
    ...witness had been coached, the defense opens the door to testimony that the witness didn't appear to have been coached. Sampson v. State , 38 N.E.3d 985, 991-92 (Ind. 2015) (testimony by an interviewer as to whether a child witness showed signs of having been coached is admissible if the def......
  • Fallin v. State, No. 79, Sept. Term, 2017
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • July 12, 2018
    ...is insufficient to guard against the dangers that such 460 Md. 158testimony will constitute impermissible vouching." Sampson v. State , 38 N.E.3d 985, 991-92 (Ind. S. Ct. 2015) (emphasis in original).12 In this regard, it is instructive to compare the evidence derived from a polygraph exami......
  • Hastings v. State, No. 29A02–1507–CR–982.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • June 21, 2016
    ...to the trial court's procedure below, Hastings must argue that the trial court's procedure was fundamental error. See Sampson v. State, 38 N.E.3d 985, 992 (Ind.2015) (noting that the failure to object at trial waives the issue for review unless fundamental error occurred). The fundamental e......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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