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Criminal Law Keyed to Osler
United States v. Jennings
Victim, Casey, was a 13-year-old on a flight from San Diego to Washington D.C. with her 11-year-old brother. They were flying unaccompanied from their mother’s home to their father’s home for the winter holiday. Their mother went through security and left soon before the minors were to board. Once their mother left, defendant, age 24 struck up conversation with them and asked if they were traveling alone. When boarding Casey sat in her assigned seat of 7A with her brother in front of her in row 6A. Defendant took the seat 7B next to Casey even though it was not his assigned seat and told the victim that he wanted to sit next to her because she was beautiful. Casey smelled the alcohol on defendant’s breath. He said that he was 21-years-old and that age did not matter. He also expressed dislike for statutory rape. He did this while placing his hand on her inner thigh.
When the seatbelt sign went off, Casey went to use the bathroom and when she walked past the defendant he grabbed her putt and touched his fingers to her vagina. When she got back from the bathroom, Casey noticed the armrest between herself and the defendant had been raised. Defendant said he was cold and Casey offered him a blanket. Casey said she was hot and did not want to be covered, but defendant covered her anyways and placed his left on on her inner thigh. While trying to kiss Casey, the defendant spilled the wine he was drinking and went to the bathroom to clean himself. Casey tried to get her brother to move to 7B while the defendant was gone, but he refused. Casey then placed the blanket back in her backpack.
This did not deter the defendant who began stroking her butt and inner thigh for 15 minutes. Casey did not say anything because she was scared and shocked, but the defendant suggested they hook up when they land in San Diego. Defendant did move to the seat 6B between Casey’s brother and Ms. Schmidt. He told Ms. Schmidt that he thought Casey was beautiful, and Ms. Schmidt responded that she was 13 or 14 years old. Defendant responded saying that he thought she was hot, wanted to join the mile-high club with her, and that he had always had a thing for younger girls. The passenger in 7C then moved, so defendant moved next to Casey again against her wishes and placed her legs over his lap. Ms. Columbus, who had seen the defendant chat with the children at the gate, saw the defendant and Casey and alerted flight attendants to the situation. Defendant was moved to his assigned seat. Casey then moved between her brother and Schmidt, and recounted what had happened to her.
When the plane landed, the defendant hurried off to meet Casey and followed her through the terminal. Casey was crying at this point, so Ms. Columbus sent the children to find their father and found security who detained the defendant until airport security arrived. The defendant tried to have the statements of Ms. Schmidt and Ms. Columbus made regarding what Casey told them to be inadmissible under the evidence rules regarding hearsay, but they were admitted under an exception that allows excited utterances to be admitted. Additionally, knowledge of Casey’s age was not brought up at trial or mentioned in the jury instructions because it is not an element of the crime and the defendant agreed to it.
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