State v. Ray
|29 July 2022
|516 P.3d 329
|STATE of Utah, Appellee, v. Eric Matthew RAY, Appellant.
|Utah Court of Appeals
Douglas J. Thompson, Attorney for Appellant
Sean D. Reyes, and Karen A. Klucznik, Salt Lake City, Attorneys for Appellee
Judge Gregory K. Orme authored this Opinion, in which Judges David N. Mortensen and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
¶1 On remand from our Supreme Court, Eric Matthew Ray again challenges his conviction of forcible sexual abuse, arguing that Utah Code section 76-5-406(2)(k) is unconstitutionally vague on its face and that the trial court erred in denying him access to a portion of his victim's medical records. We affirm.
¶2 In late 2008, Ray, then a married twenty-seven-year-old law student in Illinois, sent a text message to a wrong number. R.M., then a fourteen-year-old girl living in Utah, was the recipient of the misdirected text. R.M. informed Ray of his mistake and of her age, but the two began communicating daily through text, social media, and telephone conversations. They initially discussed topics such as politics, religion, school, and Ray's marital problems, but their conversations eventually took a romantic turn. R.M. testified that their "conversations got a little bit more intimate," and they began discussing sex, love, and marriage. These discussions included talk of marriage in a temple of their shared religion and of R.M. attending art school in Illinois.
¶3 In March 2010, Ray flew to Utah during his spring break to visit R.M., who by that time was fifteen years old. Over the course of Ray's four-day visit, with the exception of the third day, during which R.M. was grounded, Ray and R.M. would go to Ray's hotel room and engage in progressively serious sexual activity.
¶4 On the first day of his visit, Ray picked R.M. up from school in his rental car and took her to his hotel. There, Ray gave R.M. her "first kiss and then there was a lot of kissing and making out going on" for the next several hours. R.M. testified at trial that while lying in bed together, Ray touched her "bra and underwear areas" over her clothing. R.M. acknowledged that this contradicted her testimony at an earlier preliminary hearing, during which she stated that they had just kissed and that nothing else had happened on that first day. When they had finished, Ray dropped R.M. off at a corner near her house.
¶5 On the second day, R.M.’s two friends accompanied R.M. to the hotel. While the friends went swimming at the hotel's pool, Ray and R.M. disrobed to their underwear and began "kissing on the bed" for about an hour. R.M. testified at trial that Ray again touched her "bra and [her] underwear areas" and that he also touched her buttocks and "momentarily" reached under her bra. This trial testimony also contradicted her testimony at the preliminary hearing that Ray never touched under her bra or her buttocks. R.M. testified at trial that she also touched Ray's "private parts" over his underwear, and when her friends returned to the room, the four played a game of "Sexy Truth or Dare," during which Ray showed them a picture he had taken of two sex toys.
¶6 On the third day, because R.M. was grounded due to poor grades, Ray met her in her high school parking lot, and they worked on her homework for about an hour in the rental car. R.M. testified at trial that "nothing happened" that day other than homework.
¶7 On the fourth day—their last day together—Ray decorated the hotel room with flowers and candles. R.M. took a shower and, per Ray's earlier request via text, shaved her pubic area. R.M. testified at trial that she exited the bathroom naked to find Ray also naked. They began kissing and eventually moved to the bed, where Ray touched the "outside" of R.M.’s vagina with his fingers for "[a] few minutes."2 Afterward, they watched a movie from the Twilight franchise while in bed and later went out to eat. This contradicted R.M.’s testimony at the preliminary hearing that after she showered and shaved, she "[g]ot dressed and went back into his room," where they watched the movie together and then began engaging in sexual activity.
¶8 They left the hotel room to get something to eat, and when they returned to the hotel room, the two discussed the possibility of sexual intercourse. R.M. told Ray that she "wasn't ready for that," and he said "he was okay to wait."3 While still at the hotel, Ray
gave R.M. a candle, a tee shirt he had worn, and a vibrator to remember him by. In return, R.M. gave Ray a tee shirt she had worn.
¶9 When Ray returned to Illinois, the two continued to communicate via text message for just under a week until R.M. was hospitalized with meningitis. During her ten-day hospital stay, R.M. spent some time in the ICU and was given numerous medications. R.M. stated that she was "on and off conscious" during her stay, while her mother (Mother) testified that R.M. "was awake and asleep, awake and asleep," but that she was never "unconscious."
¶10 R.M. notified Ray of her condition when she was admitted to the hospital, but she was unable to communicate with him thereafter. After unsuccessfully trying to get ahold of R.M., Ray called Mother posing as Edward Matthews, a fictional classmate of R.M.’s, and asked about her condition. Thereafter, Ray continued to contact R.M.’s parents and the hospital at least once a day inquiring after her condition and offering his own theories as to the type of infection R.M. had. At one point, he informed R.M.’s parents via email that R.M. had a vaginal infection, which Mother considered "a red flag." Concerned, Mother looked through R.M.’s social media page and found a picture containing two tags: Ray and Edward Matthews. Mother also discovered many pictures of Ray on R.M.’s cellphone. When Ray later called R.M.’s phone, her parents told him "to leave her alone."
¶11 R.M.’s parents contacted a neighbor in law enforcement, who in turn asked a detective (Detective) to look into the matter. On March 24, 2010, Detective interviewed R.M. at the hospital, whom he described at trial as being "in a sedated state" and "slow to respond." Detective also stated that R.M.’s responses quickly became "slurred," "groggy," and "incoherent." In his report, Detective wrote, "I was informed that [R.M.] had been given a dose of pain medication that made it difficult for her to speak clearly, but that she could understand what I was asking of her, and that she could answer the questions I would ask."
¶12 Although the interview lasted only about ten minutes due to R.M.’s condition, R.M. managed to confirm to Detective that Ray and Edward Matthews were the same person and to explain how they first began exchanging text messages. She told Detective that they began expressing romantic feelings toward each other and that Ray visited her in Utah earlier that month. She said that on the first day of Ray's visit, she met Ray in her high school parking lot and that "they remained there for several hours" in Ray's car. She said that they "kissed on the lips multiple times, and talked about various topics." This was at odds with R.M.’s later trial testimony that they went back to Ray's hotel room and that, in addition to kissing, Ray touched her "bra and [her] underwear areas" over her clothing.
¶13 R.M. then told Detective that she did not see Ray again until the third day. This account differed from R.M.’s later trial testimony that she and two friends went back to Ray's hotel on the second day, and that while the friends were at the pool, Ray again touched her "bra and underwear areas" and "momentarily" reached under her bra. R.M. told Detective that on the third day, they again spent time in Ray's rental car in the high school parking lot "talking and kissing" for "three to four hours." But this time, she said that Ray also put his hands down her pants and attempted to "finger" her. Ray removed his hand after she told him to because she had a yeast infection and the rubbing was causing her pain.4 R.M. also told Detective that she had sent Ray approximately 100 nude images of herself.5
¶14 At the time, R.M. did not disclose to Detective any of the additional details regarding
her interactions with Ray that were later presented at trial. When Ray's counsel asked why not, R.M. responded that she "was in the hospital" and "was very sick."
¶15 Even after being discharged from the hospital, R.M. was still "extremely ill," "found it very difficult to sit" or to "communicate for long periods of time," and became nauseated "every time she moved." Based on these extenuating circumstances, and based on R.M.’s adverse reaction to Detective whenever he brought up the investigation, Detective arranged for R.M.’s adult sister (Sister) to interview her at home. During that interview, R.M. disclosed additional details that she had not disclosed in her interview at the hospital, which Sister recorded in written form.6
¶16 Approximately one month after the hospital interview, Detective, posing as R.M., began communicating with Ray over social media with the aim of getting "more information as to whether there had been any criminal activity." At one point, Detective asked whether Ray had told his wife about "going down my pants." Ray responded: "no I have not violated any laws so ther ewould be noting to tell."7 At another point, Detective asked "what if I was pregnant or soemthing?" to which Ray replied, "we didnt have sex and im sure if you were pregnant, i would have found out." Detective responded, "yeah but you touched me there what if sperm was on your hand," which Ray did not deny, but instead replied, "your parents would have found a way to get me arrested." Later on in the conversation, Ray stated: "we wanted to [have sex] when we were kissing," "but you wanted to ... stay a virgin and i didnt want to hurt you in any way and we didnt have sex." Ray later described giving R.M. her first kiss and how they then "got into...
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