The Florida First District Court of Appeal recently discussed the admissibility of similar act evidence in crimes involving child molestation in Newman v. State of Florida. In Newman, Appellant was charged with lewd or lascivious molestation of his eight-year-old adopted daughter. At trial, the State presented evidence that when the victim was eight years old and they lived in Arkansas, Appellant took her and one of her brothers on a trip to Florida. They stayed in a hotel, sharing a room with two beds. The victim testified during their first night, Appellant get into his bed naked while she slept in the other bed and her brother slept on the floor. On the second night, Appellant went to bed naked again. This time, he told the victim to get into his bed and let her brother sleep in the other bed.
The victim fell asleep in Appellant’s bed, wearing a nightgown. She was later awakened by him rubbing her vagina over her underwear with his hands and repeatedly saying the word “sexy.” On the third night, Appellant again went to bed naked, directed the victim to sleep with him, and then rubbed her vagina and forced her to touch his penis while saying “sexy.” Appellant was subsequently arrested for lewd or lascivious molestation.
Prior to trial, the State filed a notice it intended to introduce similar fact evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts Appellant had committed against the victim’s sister, another one of his adopted children. At the Williams rule hearing, the victim’s sister testified when she was around twelve Appellant woke her up during the night while everyone was sleeping and showed her how to use a “purple thing that would vibrate.” In the process, he touched and penetrated her vagina with his fingers because she “wasn’t doing it right.” He did those things for several nights and then never again. During the incidents, her siblings were nearby sleeping. Continue reading