On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Indictment No. 08-02-0205.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 17, 2011
Before Judges Alvarez and Skillman.
Tried by a jury, defendant Curt Alexander was convicted of all counts of Indictment No. 08-02-0205: first-degree aggravated sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(1) (count one); third-degree child endangering, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a) (count two); and second-degree sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(b) (count three). After merging the second-degree sexual assault conviction with the first-degree aggravated sexual assault, on June 11, 2009, the trial judge sentenced defendant to a twelve-year term subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA) eighty-five percent parole disqualifier. See N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2(a). Appropriate fines, penalties, and other conditions were imposed. Defendant appeals, and we affirm.
According to the State's proofs, defendant, a childhood friend of the victim's father, lived with the victim's family from 1996 until late 1999 or early 2000. In 1999, the victim, J.T., was approximately eight years old.
J.T. testified at defendant's trial that at times she and her siblings would be left in his care. On those occasions, defendant performed oral sex upon her and compelled her to perform oral sex upon him. She also believes he engaged in vaginal intercourse with her, as after these episodes, urination was painful. The victim said nothing to her parents about the assaults, but at age fifteen or sixteen, she separately disclosed the events to a cousin, S.T., and her best friend, J.R. At trial, J.R. corroborated that the victim had told her about these events; S.T. did not testify.
During the early morning hours of November 4, 2007,*fn1
the victim's mother discovered an undressed teenage boy with
J.T. In the ensuing discussion when she was confronted about her
sexual activity by her parents, J.T. revealed defendant's sexual
J.T.'s father testified that as a result of his daughter's disclosures, he drove to defendant's home and spoke to him outside his house for fifteen or twenty minutes. J.T.'s father said defendant admitted having "relations" with the victim. Defendant also admitted wanting to tell the victim's father about his crimes but that he "didn't know how[.]" He apologized. The victim's father then went home.
By this time it was approximately 4:00 or 4:30 in the morning. Some time later, the victim's father returned to defendant's house and asked him to get in the car so they could discuss the situation further. During this conversation, defendant admitted that he forced the child to perform oral sex upon him. At one point, defendant told J.T.'s father to strike him as hard as he could, which he did. J.T.'s father recalled punching defendant "maybe once, twice or three times[,]" although he could not remember the precise number of punches.
He admitted threatening to kill defendant, asking rhetorically, "who wouldn't?"
Defendant explained his conduct to J.T.'s father by claiming he had demons inside and could not stop himself. Finally, J.T.'s father drove defendant back to his house, returned to his own home, and called his extended family. The authorities were subsequently contacted.
Defendant testified on his own behalf. He acknowledged living in J.T.'s home, but denied being left alone with the children except on two occasions. Defendant's description of his conversation with J.T.'s father during the very early morning hours of November 4, 2007 also differed. He insisted that he initially denied the accusations, and that as a result J.T.'s father left, agreeing with him that J.T. was probably "protecting a boy . . . ." Defendant said that J.T.'s father subsequently returned, armed with a gun, and ordered him into his car. While the men drove around, defendant said J.T.'s father repeatedly threatened him and his family, and actually assaulted him. Defendant claimed he admitted to the wrongful conduct and attributed it to the presence of demons inside him only after the threats were made. ...