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King v. Adams

United States District Court, N.D. California

August 26, 2014

ALTON A. KING, Petitioner,
DERRAL G. ADAMS, Warden, Respondent.


SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge


Alton A. King, a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections, filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 challenging his 2008 conviction from the Santa Clara County Superior Court. This matter is now before the Court for consideration of the merits of the petition. For the reasons discussed below, the petition is DENIED.


I. The Crime

King was convicted in Santa Clara County Superior Court of continuous sexual abuse of a child under fourteen years in violation of California Penal Code § 288.5(a) and lewd and lascivious act on a child under fourteen in violation of California Penal Code § 288(a). The following factual background is taken from the order of the California Court of Appeal:

D.'s Mother

In August 1993, just before the start of the school year, D., his brother C. and their mother moved to an apartment near their local Seventh Day Adventist Church. Beginning on August 23, 1993, the children attended the church's school (the Church School). Appellant and his family attended the same church and school as D.
Appellant used to see D. and his brother waiting at the bus stop and began giving them rides. Subsequently, appellant's family and D.'s family began to spend holidays together. In addition, the boys spent at least every other weekend, and sometimes, consecutive weekends at appellant's home.
D. and his brother were involved in a church-sponsored youth organization called Pathfinders. Pathfinders held weekly meetings, which began about 7 p.m. at the church. Pathfinders' activities included camping trips, an annual bike-a-thon, and jamborees.
D. and his family moved to Sacramento on December 26, 1996. In 2004, D.'s mother had a conversation with D.'s brother who disclosed to her that he had been molested by appellant. D.'s mother spoke with D. Eventually, D. admitted that appellant had molested him. D.'s mother called her sister and then reported the matter to the San Jose Police Department. D.'s mother said that she reported the matter, "Because we needed to stop him from getting to somebody else's child."
D.'s mother admitted that she had conducted an Internet search on appellant's name and discovered that appellant had been convicted of molesting other boys. She thought that she had read something on Google or heard something that some of the other boys that had been molested had received money from a lawsuit, but she was not sure whether it was before or after she reported that her boys had been molested by appellant.

Victim D.

D. attended the Church School from fifth through seventh grade, ages 11 through 13. [FN1] D. was the same age as appellant's twin children, J1 and J2, and was in the same class. D. confirmed that he was involved in Pathfinders and each week, on the day of the meeting, D. would go to appellant's home after school and then appellant would drive him and his brother to church for the evening meeting. Appellant was a lead counselor who chaperoned, transported children and helped out at events. Appellant nearly always drove D., his brother C., J1, and J2 to the weekly Pathfinder meetings.
FN1. The parties stipulated that D. commenced attending school on "August 23rd, 94." However, this appears to be a misstatement by the prosecutor because the stipulation then goes on "through June 2nd of 94."
At appellant's home, appellant routinely molested D. on the day of the weekly Pathfinders meeting, on the weekends when D. spent the night and on Pathfinder's camping trips. Appellant would fondle D.'s penis, orally copulate him, and on one occasion sodomized him. Sometimes, appellant would have D. orally copulate him.
D. testified that appellant molested him nearly every time they were alone. However, he described a number of specific instances of sexual abuse.
First, when D. was in fifth grade, he was playing video games alone while sitting on the edge of the bed in the loft playroom in appellant's home. The other children were playing basketball outside or watching television in another part of the house. D. was at appellant's house that day because there was a Pathfinders meeting that evening.
Appellant climbed into the loft, appellant lay[ed] down on the bed behind him and started fondling him over his clothes. D. said that after about 10 minutes, appellant left to check on some food he was cooking. When appellant returned to the loft, he began to fondle D. again, but this time removed D.'s pants and orally copulated him until D. ejaculated.
D. described another incident in which appellant sodomized him. On that day, D.'s brother had stayed at school and appellant had taken his children to the orthodontist and left them there before returning to his house with D. In the guest bedroom, appellant fondled and orally copulated D. After D. ejaculated, appellant went into the bathroom, returned with lotion, which he applied to D.'s anus, and then inserted his penis into D.'s anus. Appellant stopped after D. told him that it hurt. D. testified that since this incident, he is bothered by the smell of lotion because it "brings back bad memories."
D. recounted an incident that happened in Madera County, where the Pathfinders held their annual bike-a-thon (hereafter the Chowchilla incident). While the Pathfinder's leader, Mr. Tupper, played the guitar and lead the children in singing songs, appellant told D. to go to his "truck, " a four door Ford Explorer. D. got into the back seat of the vehicle with appellant. Appellant looked around to see if anyone was coming, but did not appear worried. Appellant fondled D. and then orally copulated him until he ejaculated. Next, appellant removed his own clothing and had D. orally copulate him.
D. noted that this was not the first time he had orally copulated appellant. D. testified about an incident that happened in Napa County. This incident took place toward the end of D.'s second year at the Church School, during a Pathfinders' trip to Calistoga Park (hereafter the Calistoga incident). While hiking with the group, appellant pulled D. off to the side on a small trail and then orally copulated D. D. remembered this trip because afterwards he broke out with a poison ivy rash around his genitals and buttocks.
D. told the jury about another incident that he remembered happening at Mount Lassen. D. was staying in a tent with his brother and one other boy. Appellant entered the tent and pretended to tickle and wrestle with the boys, but actually grabbed D.'s genitals. As the boys were falling asleep, appellant pretended to be asleep, but after awhile, appellant started stroking D.'s penis. [FN2]
FN2. Witnesses testified at length regarding the timing of the Mount Lassen trip, which the prosecution alleged occurred shortly after D. and his brother joined Pathfinders in August of 1993. D.'s brother testified that he had been abused on this trip as well. However, before trial the prosecutor informed the court that he would not use this incident as one of the incidents involving D. Rather, the prosecution elected to use the incident to establish a timeline and for propensity evidence. Accordingly, the parties stipulated that the "Mount Lassen incident will not be sought as a basis to convict the defendant on counts 1, 2, or 3."
D. described an occasion when he was in sixth grade, which occurred after he and his brother had taken the bus home from school. Appellant called D. on the telephone, asked who was home with him and if his mother was there. D. told appellant that he was home with his brother. According to D., "[a]ll of a sudden, he was at the door." Appellant gave D.'s brother some money and asked him to go to the store to buy some sodas. Once
D.'s brother left, appellant masturbated D. and then orally copulated him. When D.'s brother returned, appellant drank some soda and left quickly.
D. remembered another incident that occurred when he was in sixth grade that took place at church. In the 20 minutes between the end of Bible class and the church service, appellant pulled D. into one of the youth classrooms and locked the door. The room was "pitch black." Appellant directed D. to the back of the classroom, fondled D. under his clothes and as soon as D. had an erection, appellant undid D.'s belt, unzipped D.'s pants and orally copulated him.
According to D., when he was in seventh grade, appellant drove him to school regularly. On one occasion, appellant reached into the back seat of the car and at every red light fondled D. while pretending to tickle him. According to D., appellant's children were in the front of the car.
D. recounted another occasion that happened while he was in seventh grade that occurred at appellant's house on a Pathfinders' meeting day. D. was playing video games in the loft when appellant entered and began to fondle him over his clothing. After a short time, appellant went downstairs to check on something. When appellant returned to the loft, appellant began to fondle D. under his clothing and tried to remove D.'s pants.
D. refused, telling appellant that he did not want to do "it" anymore and that appellant should go and molest his own children. According to D., appellant told him that he did not do "it" to his own children. D. characterized appellant's demeanor after this incident as "pissed off." D. noted that appellant left abruptly and did not speak to him for the rest of the night.
After this incident, temporarily, appellant stopped molesting D. for three or four weeks. Eventually, appellant started again, but would give D. gifts or take D. to the store for ice cream or a soda.
D. described the next incident as having occurred in the loft area on the day of a Pathfinders' meeting. He was alone playing video games when appellant fondled D. by stroking D.'s penis. The following weekend, D. was at appellant's house where he was watching television in the den. The other children had finished watching television and left the room. Appellant entered the room, fondled D., orally copulated him until he ejaculated and then left the room.
D. recalled another occasion that happened before a Pathfinders' meeting just after he used the bathroom near the guest bedroom in appellant's house. Appellant appeared in the bedroom, fondled D., orally copulated D. and then had D. orally copulate him. D. remembered this incident because after it was over appellant gave him $25.
D. testified that there were many occasions during which appellant would wrestle with him and his brother and grab their genitals. On one occasion, appellant's wife walked in during the ...

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