Wildeboer v. Petersen, No. 33097.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtPRESTON
Citation175 N.W. 349,187 Iowa 1169
PartiesWILDEBOER v. PETERSEN.
Decision Date15 December 1919
Docket NumberNo. 33097.

187 Iowa 1169
175 N.W. 349

WILDEBOER
v.
PETERSEN.

No. 33097.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Dec. 15, 1919.


Appeal from District Court, Tama County; J. W. Willett, Judge.

Action at law to recover damages for an alleged unlawful assault and attendant defilement of the plaintiff. Trial to a jury. Verdict and judgment for plaintiff for $1,500. Defendant appeals. Reversed and remanded for a retrial.

[175 N.W. 350]

Cosson & Francis, of Des Moines, and H. J. Ferguson, of Tama, for appellant.

C. A. Pratt, of Traer, and R. P. Kepler, of Toledo, for appellee.


PRESTON, J.

[1] 1. Plaintiff alleges that in the evening of September 27, 1912, defendant did willfully and forcibly assault plaintiff while she was in a shed gathering eggs, threw her upon the floor of said building, and did forcibly and with menace, against her will, carnally know and debauch plaintiff, and did defile and have carnal connection with her against her will, causing her to become pregnant and to bear a child, which was stillborn; that she became sick and sore, and sustained injury to her health, reputation, and feelings, causing her great humiliation and sorrow, for which she asks damages. These things are denied by the defendant. This case has been here before. 182 Iowa, 1185, 166 N. W. 464. On the former appeal it was held, without a review of the testimony, that the evidence was sufficient to take the case to the jury. Informations were filed against defendant, first charging seduction, and later rape, by a person other than plaintiff, wherein the date of the alleged transaction is different from that testified to by plaintiff, making some confusion, or perhaps conflict. There were also some contradictory statements by plaintiff, and perhaps some other witnesses, evidence of which was introduced by way of impeachment. In view of another retrial, we shall not set out the evidence. The credibility of the witnesses, including plaintiff, and the weight to be given their testimony, was for the jury. State v. Carpenter, 124 Iowa, 5, 98 N. W. 775;Landis v. Railway, 173 Iowa, 466, 471, 154 N. W. 607. The case was for the jury, and defendant's motion for a directed verdict was properly overruled.

We shall set out enough of the testimony to show the bearing of some of the errors assigned. At the time of the transaction, alleged to have occurred on September 27th, which we understand was Friday, plaintiff was a single woman, 28 years of age, and in good health. She had worked out some years previous, but at the time in question was living with her mother and stepfather, who were tenants of the defendant. She was born in Germany, and had attended school but little, and had only reached the second reader. She could understand only a part of the English language. She details the length and extent of her acquaintance with defendant, his visits to her home, and attempted liberties with her, by defendant taking hold of her, pinching her limbs and other parts of her person, before the transaction in question; says that he told her at one time he dreamed he slept with her. At the last trial she was not in good health, and was unable to give her testimony without taking rests, and at one time, while on the witness stand, fainted in the presence of the jury and was carried from the room. She testifies that on the evening in question, at about sundown, she went out to the outbuilding to gather eggs, going first to the chicken house, and then to the north shed of the barn. In the shed some one grabbed her by the shoulder, and, looking around, she saw defendant, and said to him, “What you want?” and he said, “Be still,” and put both hands on her shoulder; that she screamed, and he said, “Be still, or I'll choke you,” and again, “Be still, or I will fix you;” then pushed her dress, and went on top of her, and had intercourse with her. We do not give her exact language as to the last sentence; that she fought him with her arms and legs; that she screamed; that defendant then got off of her; she went to the house where her mother was in bed; when she went to the house she was crying; told her mother what had happened to her in the shed; her calico dress was torn; that when she went into her mother's room her hair was down a little and straw in it; that after she went to her mother's bedroom, she went upstairs, washed herself off, put on another dress, and went down stairs again, and laid on the bed with her mother; she was crying; in 10 or 15 minutes after that she washed her face, made up her hair, and came out into another room; then made the meal

[175 N.W. 351]

for the threshers, her mother helping; the rest of the evening she was caring for the work around the house, and serving supper for the threshers, who arrived about 8:30. The mother of plaintiff, testifying through an interpreter, corroborates her testimony as to acts of defendant towards plaintiff before the assault; also the condition of plaintiff's clothes, hair, and body, immediately after the assault, and as to the complaints; also about plaintiff being sick for a considerable time before the birth of the child, and afterwards. Plaintiff's child was born in June, 1913, and lived but a few minutes. Plaintiff's mother testified that the doctor stayed a while after that, and then we have this record:

“Q. Was you in the room that night when the baby was born; when the doctor showed the baby to Katie? A. Yes. Q. Was you there when they got the baby laid in the casket and showed the baby to Katie in the casket? (Objected to as immaterial to any issue in the case, the only purpose at all can be to win the sympathy of the jury as far as may be, by a recital of these facts which have certainly been gone into with sufficient fullness, etc.)

The court: That may be true, unless there is a possible chance of some effort to contradict it, it being denied in the pleadings--why I think a reasonable amount of it may be indulged in. (Objection overruled. Exception.)”

There seems to have been no direct answer to the question; the next that appears is that witness says she stayed there in the room after the baby was born. Other evidence will be referred to later, and in connection with the consideration of the errors, if it appears necessary.

2. There was some controversy in the trial below between the court and one of appellant's counsel, running through the trial. These matters are set out quite fully in the abstract, and argued at some length. Appellant complains strongly of the alleged misconduct of the trial court in this respect. In view of a reversal on other grounds, we do not decide this point. Davis v. Hansen, 172 N. W. 1. There may be less contention, and all may be more patient, considerate, and respectful, at the next trial.

[2][3] 3. The first error assigned is in regard to the exclusion by the court of testimony of six members of the grand jury, offered by defendant for the purpose of showing admissions by plaintiff, and for impeachment. After showing that plaintiff appeared before the grand jury in September, 1913, when the question as to whether defendant had committed a criminal offense was under investigation, defendant sought to show statements made by her to the grand jury. This testimony was objected to by the plaintiff as incompetent, not being the best evidence of what the testimony was, as given by the witness before the grand jury at that time; that the record of the testimony kept by the clerk of the grand jury, signed by the witness, is the best evidence, and, as shown by the witness, such testimony before the grand jury was taken, reduced to writing, signed by the witness, and kept by the clerk; and that no showing has been made that such documentary evidence could not be produced. The objection was sustained, and defendant offered to show by said grand jurors that at the time referred to plaintiff stated to the grand jury that defendant came to her in the shed, laid her down, and had intercourse with her; that he used no force; that, when asked if he tore her clothes, she replied, “No, they were old and ragged;” that, when asked if she fought him off, she would not answer; that, when asked whether or not she screamed, she said, “No.” When asked whether or not Petersen made any threats against her she said, “Petersen said nothing;” that, when asked as to when she told her mother about her trouble with Petersen, she replied it was not until a long time afterwards, and not at the time the trouble occurred; that the county attorney was present and conducted the examination. The ground of the ruling, as stated by the court, is: We have come to an abiding conclusion that the same sacredness should obtain over the introduction of testimony as regards what took place before the grand jury that obtains in the indorsement of contracts that are reduced to writing, and that the record that is made before a grand jury is what binds the witness in a controversy that may thereafter arise as regards what took place in the grand jury room; the theory upon which the objection is sustained is that as a record was kept and signed by the witnesses, as provided by law, that such record becomes the best evidence. That is the gist of the court's view; that is, there is no effort to produce the original signed statement.

“Mr. Cosson: We don't know if it is in existence; I had the clerk of the court investigate, and the county attorney, and both told me that they could not find any record of the minutes; the county attorney had searched very diligently for them. I make this statement to the court professionally.

The Court: Well, if they were to testify to it, I don't know just what I would do; I think I would still sustain the objection; and still, I don't know.”

Cases are cited by appellee to the general rule that the best evidence must be produced, or a legal excuse given why it is not. To sustain the ruling appellee cites the statute (Supplement, § 5258), which provides that the clerk of the grand jury shall take and...

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8 practice notes
  • State v. Frommelt, No. 52834
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 11, 1968
    ...of the witness. State v. Phillips, 118 Iowa 660, 92 N.W. 876, State v. Hoffman, 134 Iowa 587, 112 N.W. 103, Wildeboer v. Petersen, 187 Iowa 1169, 175 N.W. 349. The propriety of using grand jury minutes for impeachment purposes and the manner in which this may be done therefore depend to a g......
  • Glover v. Callahan
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • December 27, 1937
    ...to recover damages for such assaults is generally recognized. Valencia v. Milliken, 31 Cal.App. 533, 160 P. 1086;Wildeboer v. Peterson, 187 Iowa 1169, 1183, 175 N.W. 349;Totten v. Totten, 172 Mich. 565, 569, 138 N.W. 257;Bishop v. Liston, 112 Neb. 559, 565, 199 N.W. 825;Dean v. Raplee, 64 H......
  • State v. Archibald, No. 38037.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 1, 1927
    ...have been permitted to be shown at a future trial with the object of disputing and traversing. Wildeboer v. Petersen, 187 Iowa, 1176, 175 N. W. 349. Notice is to be taken of the fact that the reason for the disclosure permitted by said section is “for the purpose of ascertaining whether it ......
  • Newell v. Newell's Estate, No. 36065.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 17, 1924
    ...drawn from their testimony and questions as to good faith, and so on, are not for the court. Wildeboer v. Petersen, 187 Iowa, 1169, 1170, 175 N. W. 349;State v. Carpenter, 124 Iowa, 5, 11, 98 N. W. 775;Hess v. Dicks, 192 Iowa, 378, 382, 184 N. W. 742. Again it is argued by appellee that wit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • State v. Frommelt, No. 52834
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 11, 1968
    ...of the witness. State v. Phillips, 118 Iowa 660, 92 N.W. 876, State v. Hoffman, 134 Iowa 587, 112 N.W. 103, Wildeboer v. Petersen, 187 Iowa 1169, 175 N.W. 349. The propriety of using grand jury minutes for impeachment purposes and the manner in which this may be done therefore depend to a g......
  • Glover v. Callahan
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • December 27, 1937
    ...to recover damages for such assaults is generally recognized. Valencia v. Milliken, 31 Cal.App. 533, 160 P. 1086;Wildeboer v. Peterson, 187 Iowa 1169, 1183, 175 N.W. 349;Totten v. Totten, 172 Mich. 565, 569, 138 N.W. 257;Bishop v. Liston, 112 Neb. 559, 565, 199 N.W. 825;Dean v. Raplee, 64 H......
  • State v. Archibald, No. 38037.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 1, 1927
    ...have been permitted to be shown at a future trial with the object of disputing and traversing. Wildeboer v. Petersen, 187 Iowa, 1176, 175 N. W. 349. Notice is to be taken of the fact that the reason for the disclosure permitted by said section is “for the purpose of ascertaining whether it ......
  • Newell v. Newell's Estate, No. 36065.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 17, 1924
    ...drawn from their testimony and questions as to good faith, and so on, are not for the court. Wildeboer v. Petersen, 187 Iowa, 1169, 1170, 175 N. W. 349;State v. Carpenter, 124 Iowa, 5, 11, 98 N. W. 775;Hess v. Dicks, 192 Iowa, 378, 382, 184 N. W. 742. Again it is argued by appellee that wit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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