On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Atlantic County, Docket No. FJ-01-2093-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Baxter and Koblitz.
J.L.F. appeals from her December 2, 2008 adjudication of delinquency on charges that, if committed by an adult, would constitute the crimes of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a), and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a), for which the judge sentenced her to a two-year term of non-custodial probation. As a condition of that probation, J.L.F. was ordered to complete seX offender therapy, avoid all unsupervised contact with males under the age of twelve, and comply with all registration requirements required by Megan's Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2.
On appeal, J.L.F., to whom we shall refer as defendant, raises the following claims:
I. THE EVIDENCE AND FINDINGS WERE INSUFFICIENT TO SUSTAIN THE DELINQUENCY FINDING BELOW, WARRANTING VACATION HERE.
II. ADMITTING THE VIDEOTAPED INTERVIEW OF J.R. BY INVESTIGATOR LINDEN ALONG WITH ADMITTING VARIOUS HEARSAY STATEMENTS ALLEGEDLY MADE BY J.R. TO HIS MOTHER WAS IMPROPER AND DEPRIVED THE JUVENILE OF A FAIR TRIAL.
III. THE JUVENILE'S SENTENCE IS IMPROPER AND EXCESSIVE.
These are the most relevant facts presented at trial. M.R. is the mother of a son, J.R., and a daughter, E.R. M.R. worked in an Atlantic City casino from 3:00 a.m. to approximately 11:30 a.m., and had hired defendant, who was sixteen years old, to baby-sit for her children on Saturday nights. Typically, M.R. picked defendant up on Saturdays at approximately 9:00 p.m. and all four would later go to sleep, J.R. and defendant in twin beds in J.R.'s bedroom, and M.R. and E.R. in the queen bed in M.R.'s bedroom. At approximately 2:30 a.m., M.R. would typically depart the house to go to work, leaving defendant and the two children sleeping.
On the morning of Sunday, February 11, 2007, when J.R. was nine, and E.R. was six, M.R. returned from work, and before driving defendant home, walked into the kitchen. She noticed that "all the bed stuff from the twin beds was on the floor next to the washing machine, stuffed animals, pillows, comforters, everything." M.R. testified this was unusual because the children never stripped their own beds. When asked why he had stripped the beds, J.R. told his mother that the sheets and other bedding were "dirty." Knowing that her son "had a big issue with dirt and germs," M.R. suspected "something dirty had happened. [She] just didn't know what."
M.R. took defendant home, but did not ask her what had occurred, choosing instead to talk to J.R. first. As soon as M.R. returned home, she questioned J.R., who told her that defendant "peed the bed." According to M.R., she continued to ask her son for further details, but without any success. That same afternoon, Sunday, February 11, 2007, M.R. telephoned defendant to ask her why J.R. had stripped all the beds in his room. Defendant's response was that J.R. had "tried to pull [her] pants down." M.R. told defendant that her answer "d[id]n't make much sense."
When J.R. came home from school the next day, he asked his mother if he could come into her bedroom, where he "proceeded to tell [her] what had happened." According to M.R., J.R. said:
[Defendant] had put the TV in front of the door and had told him to take his pants off and have him lay down on his bed, which he did. And he said she tried make him hard and had spit on her fingers and rub the spit up and down on his pee-pee and then pulled him down, sit him down on the ...