On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County.
Before Judges King, Gruccio and Brochin.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
This case requires us to decide whether certain offensive sexual conduct by an adult male in the presence of a child, age 11, constitutes the crime of sexual contact or the disorderly persons offense of lewdness.
Defendant Edward Ridgeway, age 44, pled guilty to sexual assault, a second-degree crime, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2b. The victim was age 11 at the time of the crime. Defendant was sentenced to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center at Avenel. As a repeat offender under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-6, defendant was sentenced to a five-year period of parole ineligibility.
On this appeal defendant contends that the conviction and sentence must be vacated because there was no adequate factual basis to support his guilty plea to the charge of sexual assault. Even though defendant has entered a guilty plea, he
retains the right to question, on appeal, the existence of factual basis for the plea. State v. Lightner, 99 N.J. 313 (1985); State v. Butler, 89 N.J. 220, 224 (1982); State v. Heitzman, 209 N.J. Super. 617, 620-621 (App. Div. 1986), aff'd o.b. on other grounds, 107 N.J. 603 (1987).
Defendant's sworn testimony, which formed the basis for acceptance of his guilty plea, is as follows:
Q. Mr. Ridgeway, do you recall September 13, 1989?
Q. Do you recall where you were approximately 12:40 in the afternoon?
A. Right -- I don't know the actual name of the street. Right here near the courthouse.
Q. Near the courthouse in ...