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People v. Ghipriel

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, First Division

July 21, 2016

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
MOURIS M. GHIPRIEL, Defendant and Appellant

          APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Riverside County, No. SWF1200303, Angel M. Bermudez, Judge.

          Affirmed.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          COUNSEL

          Steven A. Brody, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

         Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney General, Peter Quon, Jr., and Anthony DaSilva, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

         Opinion by Benke, Acting P. J., with McDonald and O'Rourke, JJ., concurring.

          OPINION

          [205 Cal.Rptr.3d 174] BENKE, Acting P. J.

          False imprisonment that involves no more in the way of force or menace than is needed to restrain the victim is a misdemeanor. Felony or aggravated false imprisonment requires proof of force greater than is needed to restrain the victim. Here, the evidence showed defendant Mouris M. Ghipriel, who weighs 240 pounds, kept one of his employees, who weighs approximately 100 pounds, in a very small office and sexually assaulted her. We reject Ghipriel's contention this record does not support his three felony false imprisonment convictions. We also reject Ghipriel's contention the trial court erred in admitting testimony from the victim with respect to his attempt to digitally penetrate her.

         Accordingly, we affirm Ghipriel's convictions.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         A. Doe's Employment at Ghipriel's Restaurant

         In March 2011, Jane Doe was 19 years old and had just graduated from high school. Doe was five feet tall and weighed 100 pounds. At that point in time, Doe began working for Ghipriel at a steak house he owned and operated in Hemet, California. Ghipriel was 54 years old, five feet eight inches tall, and weighed 240 pounds.

         Doe began working as a dishwasher at Ghipriel's restaurant. While washing dishes, Ghipriel would occasionally rub Doe's shoulders or walk by and grab her by her hip. In May 2011, Doe was promoted from dishwashing to a position as a hostess, where she stood behind a small podium. On one occasion while Doe was standing at the podium, Ghipriel walked up behind her, put his hand under her V-neck shirt, reached across her chest and grabbed her left breast. Doe ducked down so that she could get Ghipriel's hand out of her shirt, told Ghipriel to stop and walked away.

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         Over the next several weeks, Ghipriel made a continuing series of sexually suggestive advances, of varying levels of [205 Cal.Rptr.3d 175] crudeness, on Doe. As Ghipriel would walk by Doe at the podium when she was bending down to wipe menus or a counter, he would graze her buttocks with his hand; he would do the same as she was standing at different places in the restaurant. In response, Doe would give Ghipriel a dirty look and tell him to stop. On another occasion, after discussing his plan to convert part of the restaurant to a hookah bar and have Doe manage it, Ghipriel went to the bar, had some drinks, came back to the hostess podium and kissed the corner of Doe's mouth, leaving saliva on it.

         When Doe asked to be promoted to a server's position where she could earn tips, Ghipriel told her she would have " to do stuff" with him, which she interpreted as sex acts. By way of hand gestures on one occasion and later by way of an express request, Ghipriel asked Doe to perform oral sex on him.

         B. False Imprisonment ...


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