APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Stephen A. Marcus, Judge. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BA376549)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rothschild, Acting P. J.
CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION
In this case we hold that allowing the jurors to translate for themselves the Spanish-language audio recordings of defendant's interrogations constituted structural error requiring reversal of defendant's convictions.
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS BELOW
Defendant, a pastor of a small Christian church in Hollywood, was charged with molesting three girls, who were members of his church. The incidents continued for approximately a year, from November 2009 to September 2010, when the mother of one of the girls contacted police. Defendant was arrested in September 2010 and charged with violating Penal Code sections 288, 288.5, and 289.
At trial, the girls testified as follows.
A.B. testified that when she was 12 years old defendant would pick her up in his van three times a week and take her to his church. The first time defendant kissed her on the lips in the van she thought it was by accident so she did not tell anyone. About a month later, however, defendant kissed her again on the lips and this time put his tongue in her mouth. After that, defendant tongue-kissed her about twice a week.
In addition to tongue-kissing, defendant would play what he called the "tickle game" with A.B. in the van and at his home. In the "tickle game" defendant would lie on top of A.B. and tickle her. He would also kiss her and move his erect penis against her vagina through her clothing. Afterward defendant would apologize to A.B. and tell her he would not do it again. But he kept doing it once or twice a month for 11 or 12 months. A.B. did not tell her mother because she was afraid that her mother would not believe her.
A.B. eventually told her mother and two of her mother's friends that defendant had been molesting her and Y.C., another young parishioner. When confronted by the parents of A.B. and Y.C., defendant admitted to kissing A.B. and playing the "tickle game" with her.
Y.C. is the same age as A.B. and also attended defendant's church. She testified that one day after church, while walking with defendant to his car, he kissed her on the lips. On another occasion Y.C. went to defendant's house after an argument with her mother. Defendant and one of his daughters played the "tickle game" with Y.C. on a bed. When defendant's daughter left the room, defendant kissed Y.C. and put his tongue in her mouth as she lay on the bed. He lay on top of Y.C. and pushed her legs apart. He rubbed his penis against her vagina through her clothes, kissed her neck and licked her naval. Afterward defendant told Y.C. to pray with him for God's forgiveness.
Several times defendant arranged to be alone with Y.C., and on those occasions he kissed her and put his tongue in her mouth, tried to lift her skirt, and ...