Case Caption: Cecil Francis v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2015-0002Date: 10/23/2015Author: Hodge, Rhys S. Citation: Summary:

Convictions on two counts of aggravated rape in the second degree and one count of unlawful sexual contact in the first degree involving a minor are affirmed, and conviction on one count of vagrancy is reversed. Aggravated rape under 14 V.I.C. § 1700a(a) required proof that defendant committed an act of sexual intercourse or sodomy with a person who is under 18 years but 13 years or older and not his spouse, or by force, intimidation, or using his position of authority over the victim to accomplish the sexual act. Under the statute the age of the victim-when the victim is 13, 14, or 15 years old-constitutes an aggravating factor, and to establish guilt the People need not in addition prove force, intimidation, or use of a position of authority. The testimony, combined with proof of the victim's age, was sufficient to sustain both convictions of aggravated rape in the second degree. Under 14 V.I.C. § 1708(1), one may be convicted of unlawful sexual contact for engaging in sexual contact with a person who is not a spouse using force or coercion. The events in this case clearly amount to sexual contact, and testimony about the defendant's placing one arm around the victim's neck and another around his waist allowed the trier of fact reasonably to infer that he used force to accomplish the sexual contact. There was no double jeopardy violation in this case because there were multiple acts that the Legislature has made clear are to be considered separately as two units of prosecution, giving rise to multiple convictions. Even though both acts occurred in the same afternoon, each action was separate and distinct from the other. Thus, each penetration gave rise to a chargeable offense, the conviction of which does not violate a defendant's right against double jeopardy. As the crime of vagrancy was charged here under 14 V.I.C. § 2221(a)(8), the people were required to prove that the defendant "annoy[ed] or molest[ed]" the victim, a child under the age of 18. The statute contains no definition of special meanings for these terms, and the People failed to carry its burden of producing evidence that defendant's actions annoyed or bothered the victim; his conviction for vagrancy on this theory is therefore reversed. Defendant's trial was not delayed in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial, and it was not error for the Superior Court to deny his motion for a new trial based on the absence physical evidence, since there was sufficient evidence to sustain each of the convictions, with the exception of vagrancy. No error amounting to a miscarriage of justice has been identified.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion