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People v. Brown

California Court of Appeals, First District, Second Division

May 23, 2018

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
REGINALD BROWN, Defendant and Appellant.

         CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION [*]

          Court: Alameda County Superior Court No. CH54151Trial Judge: Hon. Kevin R. Murphy

          Kyle Gee, under appointment by the Court of Appeal for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey M. Laurence, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Catherine A. Rivlin, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Hanna Chung, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          Miller, J.

         A jury found defendant Reginald Brown guilty of one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14 years old and eight counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14 years. In all, there were three victims, Jane Does 1, 2, and 3. Brown's primary contention on appeal is that the six convictions of lewd acts upon Jane Doe 3 (Pen. Code, [1] § 288, subd. (a)) are barred by the statute of limitations.

         The crimes of conviction as to victim Jane Doe 3 occurred over the course of about two years ending in 1994 when Jane Doe 3 was around 13 years old, but Brown was not charged until February 2013. At the time of the offenses, the statute of limitations was six years, subject to a one-year extension when a victim first reports the offenses to law enforcement. Specifically, section 803 provides an extension of the statute of limitations for certain sex offenses-including violation of section 288-allowing the filing of a criminal complaint within one year of a report to a law enforcement agency by a person alleging he or she was the victim of such an offense under the following circumstances: (1) the victim was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, (2) the limitations period has expired, (3) the offense involved substantial sexual conduct, and (4) there is independent evidence corroborating the victim's allegation. (See § 803, subd. (f); former § 803, subd. (g), added by Stats. 1984, ch. 1270, § 2, as amended by Stats. 1993, ch. 390, § 1 (former § 803(g.)[2])

         Jane Doe 3, as an adult, reported Brown's conduct to law enforcement in December 2012, and he was charged in February 2013, less than one year later. But Brown contends the prosecution of the offenses involving Jane Doe 3 is time-barred because reports of Brown's conduct were actually made much earlier, in 1994. In the alternative, he argues there were issues that should have been determined by the jury. In the published portion of this opinion, we conclude a report of sexual abuse made to law enforcement by a person or agency other than the victim does not constitute a report by the victim under former section 803(g), even if that report is based on the victim's allegations of abuse. In the unpublished portion of this opinion, we conclude Brown's remaining arguments are without merit. We affirm the judgment.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Brown's contentions on appeal do not require a detailed description of the facts underlying his convictions, and we only briefly summarize them viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution. (People v. Linder (2006) 139 Cal.App.4th 75, 79.)[3]

         Jane Doe 3 was born in 1980. Growing up, she was family friends with Brown and his family, and she viewed Brown as an uncle. When she was 11 or 12 years old, Jane Doe 3 went to Brown's house “[a]ll the time” to play or get her hair done.[4] Brown would pick her up after school in his van and drive her to his house.

         Jane Doe 3 testified Brown was sexually inappropriate with her multiple times when she was alone with him in his van. He would park his van down the street from her house, and she recalled, “it was a lot of touching on my legs, touching the inside of my pants. And my hand being placed on his penis.” This happened more than 20 times over the course of about two years. She did not tell anyone because she thought she would get in trouble. On one occasion when she was 13 years old, Jane Doe 3 was playing outside at Brown's house, and he called her in the house and locked the door. Brown called her to his bedroom and had her sit on the bed. He had sexual intercourse with her and orally copulated her.[5] This was the last incident of sexual contact between Jane Doe 3 and Brown.

         After the incident at Brown's house, Jane Doe 3 told her mother about the abuse. She testified that her mother believed her. The two of them went to Brown's house, and her mother told Brown and his girlfriend Selma what Jane Doe 3 said. Selma responded that she did not believe the girl, and Brown smirked. Jane Doe 3 and her mother left Brown's house, and Jane Doe 3 never saw Brown again.

         Jane Doe 3's mother N.H. testified that, when her daughter was around 12 years old, she told N.H. that Brown had done something inappropriate to her. Soon after this, N.H. and Jane Doe 3 went to Brown's house. N.H. confronted Brown and Selma about what Jane Doe 3 said, and “they denied it.”

         After they left Brown's house, N.H. and Jane Doe 3 went to the Hayward Police Department. N.H. testified, “I confronted the clerk [at the police station] and told them everything that was happening. But they didn't write notes or anything, so I really didn't get any help.” Jane Doe 3 did not go inside the police station with her mother. N.H. testified she did not receive any follow-up from the police, and she did not attempt to follow up either.

         Documentary evidence at trial showed that Jane Doe 3 and her mother reported Brown's conduct to Child Protective Services (CPS) in 1994. The prosecution presented an Alameda County intake form titled “Alameda County Emergency Response Unit CPS Intake Form, ” which documents a report of sexual abuse made on November 2, 1994. It includes the following handwritten narrative indicating that Jane Doe 3 personally reported the abuse to CPS: “[Jane Doe 3] said she was not allowed to visit with a particular uncle's family because of something which happened 7 months ago. On being questioned [redacted] she stated uncle had molested her-‘Ate me out'-. Occurred 3X. When confronted by mo[ther] at the time, uncle denied it, aunt refused to believe it. Mo[ther] doubted story but tended to believe dau[ghter]. Unclear if lack of contact for past 7 mo. is because mo[ther] won't let her go there for her protection or if it is because uncle's family said she can't come back. No report was made to police. [¶] RP [reporting party] is concerned re [redacted] relationship and would like to be called by CWW [child welfare worker] before contact with family is made.” Brown's name and address were listed on the intake form.

         A second document in evidence, described as an “Emergency Response Unit Investigation Attachment” (investigative report) documents the steps CPS took after receiving the report of sexual abuse. It shows a home visit was made to Jane Doe 3's home on November 4, and a social worker spoke with a counselor on November 14, who was seeing Jane Doe 3. The document also shows, on November 12, 1994, “Cross-reported molest to Officer Audrey Stevens.[6] The molester is allegedly Reggie Brown at [address], telephone [telephone number].”

         Under the heading “Precipitating Incident Factors, ” the investigative report reads, “[Jane Doe 3] has reported that, at her dad's house, she was twice sexually molested by her uncle, Reggie Brown.... According to [Jane Doe 3], she states that her uncle touched her private parts and licked her with his tongue.... [Jane Doe 3] says that she thinks it happened about three times. [Her parents] have handled the situation by not allowing Reggie Brown to have any contact with their daughter.” Under the heading “Child Assessment Factors, ” the document provides, “Apparently, [Jane Doe 3] is having a somewhat difficult time.... The family believes that she was molested by Reggie Brown and the parents have gone to the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and pressed charges.... [Jane Doe 3's parents]... have decided the way to stop the problem is simply no contact. Both Mr. and Mrs. [H.] can't fathom this Mr. Brown doing any kind of sexual molest, subsequently they are having somewhat of a difficult time proceeding with what needs to be done toward prosecution, etc. They did, however, follow through with the referral to the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.” The CPS case was closed in 1995.

         At trial, Jane Doe 3 and her mother did not recall their dealings with CPS.

         On December 6, 2012, when she was 32 years old, Jane Doe 3 went to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and reported to Deputy Jason Hawks that Brown molested her when she was a child. On February 15, 2013, an amended criminal complaint was filed against Brown alleging he committed sexual abuse upon Jane Doe 3. This was the first criminal complaint that named Jane Doe 3 as a victim.

         DISCUSSION

         I. The Statute of Limitations and ...


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