State v. Boyd, 25174.

CourtAppellate Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtSCHALLER, J.
Citation89 Conn.App. 1,872 A.2d 477
PartiesSTATE of Connecticut v. Rhoderick BOYD.
Docket NumberNo. 25174.,25174.
Decision Date17 May 2005

872 A.2d 477
89 Conn.App.

STATE of Connecticut
Rhoderick BOYD

No. 25174.

Appellate Court of Connecticut.

Argued December 7, 2004.

Decided May 17, 2005.

872 A.2d 482
Mark Rademacher, assistant public defender, with whom, on the brief, were Moira L. Buckley, former assistant public defender, and Elizabeth Duryea and Juli Reitter, certified legal interns, for the appellant (defendant)

James A. Killen, senior assistant state's attorney, with whom, on the brief, were James E. Thomas, state's attorney, and Vicki Melchiorre, senior assistant state's attorney, for the appellee (state).

872 A.2d 483


The defendant, Rhoderick Boyd, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of sexual assault in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-70 (a)(1), kidnapping in the first degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-92 (a)(2)(A) and assault in the third degree in violation of General Statutes § 53a-61 (a)(1). On appeal, the defendant claims that (1) the trial court improperly deprived him of his right to confront and to cross-examine the state's expert witnesses, (2) the court improperly failed to strike expert testimony that the victim was sexually assaulted, (3) the court improperly denied the defendant's motion for a new trial and (4) he was denied due process of law as a result of prosecutorial misconduct. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. In the fall of 1999, the sixteen year old victim attended a boarding school in Connecticut.1 In addition to attending classes, she worked in the dining hall as a dishwasher under the supervision of employees of Aramark Corporation, the company responsible for providing food service to the school. The defendant, an Aramark Corporation employee, was one of the victim's supervisors, and they worked together on the same evening shift once per week. On several occasions, the defendant, who was in his thirties, asked if he could contact her outside of work, complimented her appearance and touched her without her permission. This unwanted attention made the victim feel uncomfortable, and she did not want to be alone with the defendant.2

On the evening of the assault, the victim was scheduled for a two hour shift. Near the end of her shift, the defendant instructed the victim to go downstairs to clean large pots and pans. The defendant grabbed the victim's arm and escorted her into the elevator leading to the lower level. After leaving the elevator, the defendant told the victim to "shut up and stand still" and grabbed her upper arms tightly. The victim screamed, and the defendant responded by slapping her in the face. He then removed the victim's clothes and his pants, and forced her to touch his penis. He fondled the victim, performed oral sex on her and penetrated her with his finger. At some point, the victim screamed, and the defendant grabbed her hair and slammed her head against the tile floor, causing her to lose consciousness. The victim regained consciousness and observed that the defendant had ejaculated on her stomach, causing her to scream again. The defendant again hit her head against the ground, causing her to lose consciousness for a second time. When the victim recovered, the defendant, who had dressed, told her to return upstairs in five minutes and to not tell anyone what had happened. The victim subsequently returned to her dormitory room and took a shower.3

872 A.2d 484
On the day following the assault, the victim participated in a school volleyball game. During the game, she fell to the ground, striking her head. Following her fall, the victim was unable to move. An ambulance transported her to a hospital, where she received treatment. Thereafter, she returned to her parents' home.4 The victim had regained movement in her arms while in the hospital, but was unable to move her legs for several days

At some point following the assault, the defendant's supervisor, Steven Chmura, learned that the defendant had asked a student for her telephone number. The defendant denied that this had occurred and instead asserted that he had asked the student how someone could reach her. As a result of this admission, Chmura suspended the defendant with pay. After further investigation into the matter, the defendant's employment with Aramark Corporation was terminated.

In January, 2000, the victim, who had returned to the boarding school, found a note in her school mailbox. The note read, "Whore, you told, I said not to!" (Emphasis added.) The victim reported this incident to the dean of the school. The defendant's neighbor, Lawrence Mounds had driven the defendant to the school in the winter after the termination of the defendant's employment.5 The defendant had told him that he had a meeting with "people at the school." No other witness confirmed the existence of this meeting.

After receiving the note, the victim met with Patricia Sullivan, a police detective, who commenced an investigation after taking the victim's statement. Sullivan and Mark Francis, a police lieutenant, arrived at the defendant's home and asked him if they could talk with him. They informed him that they wanted to discuss an incident at the school that had occurred in the fall of 1999. The defendant, without prompting, responded, "What, a rape?" The defendant agreed to accompany the officers to the police station and stated that he may have said something that was not "right" to one of the students. After speaking with his wife, however, he declined to go to the police station.

The defendant was arrested, tried and convicted on all counts. The court sentenced the defendant to an effective prison term of eighteen years incarceration, suspended after fourteen years, and twenty-five years of probation. This appeal followed. Additional facts will be set forth as necessary.


The defendant first claims that the court improperly deprived him of his right to confront and to cross-examine the state's expert witnesses. Specifically, the defendant argues that the court improperly failed to release certain medical records to him concerning the victim. We agree with the defendant that because the state had been allowed to review these records, they should have been disclosed to the defendant also. We conclude, however, that

872 A.2d 485
such error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.

The following additional facts are necessary for the resolution of the defendant's claim. Lucy Puryear, a psychiatrist who had treated the victim, was called by the state as a witness and was qualified as an expert in psychiatry and neurology. Prior to her testimony, the court stated that, as discussed in a chambers conference with counsel, Puryear's progress notes concerning the assault required redaction. In the absence of the jury, the court stated for the record that certain portions of the progress notes had been redacted and that the redacted notes had been furnished to the defendant. The court marked the original document as a court's exhibit. The court informed both parties that its ruling was preliminary in nature and that if it was required as a result of Puryear's testimony, additional portions of the notes would be disclosed to the defendant as well.

Puryear testified that she had treated the victim for various illnesses, including post-traumatic stress disorder.6 She first saw the victim in April, 2001. Puryear explained that post-traumatic stress disorder "is a psychiatric diagnosis that is given to patients with a specific set of symptoms. The symptoms have to occur after a life threatening trauma, and ... the person has to be in intense fear, fear for their life, something life threatening." The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, most of which the victim exhibited, include emotional numbing, recurrent nightmares about the event, intrusive thoughts about the traumatic event, flashbacks and being easily scared or startled. Another key symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder is the loss of details regarding the traumatic event. Individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder often refrain from discussing all of the details of the traumatic event at the same time. Furthermore, it is common for such individuals to recall certain details at different times or not to reveal explicit details to others unless a certain comfort level is achieved. Puryear testified that the victim did not have any mental problems prior to the sexual assault.

Puryear also explained the victim's inability to move her arms and legs following her fall during the volleyball game. She testified that she had reviewed the victim's medical records and concluded that her inability to move was not due to a physical injury, but rather was a conversion disorder. According to Puryear, conversion disorder, a coping mechanism, occurs after an intense emotional response following a traumatic event where the person transfers those emotions or feelings into a physical symptom, such as paralysis. This response usually occurs a short time after the traumatic event but does not manifest itself immediately.

Outside of the presence of the jury, defense counsel asked Puryear about a notation in her progress notes regarding "family stressors" that occurred prior to the assault. These stressors involved certain difficulties facing the victim's sibling. In Puryear's medical opinion, these stressors had nothing to do with the victim's recollection of the assault. Defense counsel continued to inquire about the victim's relationship with her family, and Puryear testified unequivocally that the victim's familial issues were unrelated to the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

872 A.2d 486
After the jury returned, Puryear stated that, in her progress notes, she had indicated the presence of family stressors that had existed prior to the...

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