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State ex rel. D.H.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

November 25, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF D.H., a minor.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued November 13, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FJ-13-0692-12.

Lon Taylor, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant D.H. (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney; Mr. Taylor, of counsel and on the brief).

Mary R. Juliano, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor, argued the cause for respondent State of New Jersey (Christopher J. Gramiccioni, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor, attorney; Ms. Juliano, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Reisner and Alvarez.

PER CURIAM

Defendant D.H., a juvenile, appeals from his final adjudication of delinquency dated April 13, 2012, for offenses which, if he were an adult, would constitute second-degree sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2c, and disorderly persons false imprisonment, N.J.S.A. 2C:13-3. Had he been tried as an adult, those convictions could have resulted in a ten-year prison term. As a juvenile, defendant was sentenced to two years of probation and attendance at an out-patient sex offender treatment program. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the adjudication of delinquency.

The pertinent trial evidence can be summarized as follows. Defendant and the victim, R.R., both fourteen years old at the time, were students at a special education and behavioral high school. At the trial, R.R. testified that, as the two of them were walking to their carpentry class, defendant shoved her into a hall bathroom, grabbed her by the hair, and forced her to perform oral sex on him. She testified that he ejaculated and the semen got on the jeans she was wearing. R.R. did not report the assault to the male carpentry teacher. However, shortly after that class ended, she told a female teacher's aide about the incident.

In his initial statement to the police, defendant denied having any sexual encounter with R.R., and denied that they were ever in the bathroom together. However, some weeks later, when the police were taking a buccal swab from defendant for the purpose of DNA testing, he made a spontaneous admission. According to the detective's testimony, defendant stated to him that he and R.R. were in the bathroom together and that she "forced" herself on him.

Forensic testing of the victim's jeans revealed the presence of semen in the areas of the garment where she had stated defendant ejaculated on her. According to the State's expert, DNA testing of the sperm matched the DNA sample taken from defendant with a near-absolute level of certainty.

Relying heavily on the forensic evidence, as well as defendant's admission to the detective, Judge Eugene A. Iadanza found that defendant sexually assaulted the victim.

On this appeal, defendant raises the following issues for ...


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