District Court, Provo Department The Honorable Derek P.
Pullan No. 141403037
M. Parmley, Attorney for Appellant
D. Reyes and Tera J. Peterson, Attorneys for Appellee
Michele M. Christiansen authored this Opinion, in which
Judges Gregory K. Orme and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
Defendant Cory R. Patterson challenges his conviction on one
count of object rape, arguing that the evidence was
insufficient to support the jury's verdict. He does not
challenge his convictions on two counts of forcible sexual
abuse, stemming from the same incident. We conclude that the
evidence adduced at trial was sufficient for the jury to find
every element of object rape, and we therefore affirm.
When we review a challenge to the sufficiency of the
evidence, we review the evidence and all inferences that may
reasonably be drawn from it in the light most favorable to
the jury's verdict. State v. Pullman, 2013 UT
App 168, ¶ 4, 306 P.3d 827. We will vacate the
conviction only when the evidence, so viewed, is sufficiently
inconclusive or inherently improbable that reasonable minds
must have entertained a reasonable doubt that the defendant
committed the crime. Id.; see also State v.
Hamilton, 827 P.2d 232, 236 (Utah 1992). To conduct this
analysis, we first review the elements of the relevant
statute. We then consider the evidence presented to the jury
to determine whether evidence of every element of the crime
was adduced at trial.
Defendant was charged with object rape. A person is guilty of
object rape when the person, "without the victim's
consent, causes the penetration, however slight, of the
genital or anal opening of another person who is 14 years of
age or older, by any foreign object, substance,
instrument, or device, including a part of the human body
other than the mouth or genitals, with intent to cause
substantial emotional or bodily pain to the victim or with
the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any
person." Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-402.2(1) (LexisNexis
Supp. 2016). "Penetration" in this context means
"entry between the outer folds of the labia."
State v. Simmons, 759 P.2d 1152, 1154 (Utah 1988).
On appeal, Defendant's sole claim is that the State did
not present evidence that he caused such penetration.
To determine whether sufficient evidence was presented, we
must scrutinize the testimony elicited at trial. And because
we review evidence in the light most favorable to the
jury's verdict, State v. Holgate, 2000 UT 74,
¶ 2, 10 P.3d 346, we rely primarily on Victim's
account of what happened to her, which the jury apparently
Victim met Defendant at their workplace; Defendant was 23 and
Victim was 17. While working together, Defendant regaled her
with stories of his military training and his plans to get a
concealed carry permit. Victim testified that, after their
shifts, Defendant asked Victim if he could walk her to her
car. When they got to her car, Defendant told Victim that he
wanted to kiss her. He then kissed her for "about a
couple minutes" before pushing her into the back seat of
her car. Once inside the car, Defendant continued to talk to
Victim, who was "start[ing] to get scared, frightened,
and . . . was still unsure of what to do or how to act."
Victim testified that she did not think about running away at
that point, explaining, "[I]n the moment when it's
so traumatic, you don't know what to do. You're not
really in control of your body." She also testified that
she was concerned about "what he said about the military
[training] before and about his conceal[ed] carry
permit." Defendant then resumed kissing Victim.
Victim testified that, after about five minutes, "[t]he
kissing got more intimate, and then he undid my pants, and he
put his hand down my pants and started touching my vagina and
moving his hand around that area." Victim further
testified, "[W]hen he started trying to put his fingers
up my vagina I told him to stop, and he kept saying, 'No,
no, it's okay. It's okay.'" Victim repeated
her plea for Defendant to stop, and "he kind of moved
his fingers back and just started touching around the area
instead of putting his fingers up, instead of
Defendant then opened his pants and "used [his] hand to
grab my hand, and caress his penis and move it up and
down." Victim testified that whenever she tried to let
go, Defendant would "put my hand back onto his penis.
After a while he noticed that I didn't want to do that;
and after I told him to stop, he just noticed that. So he
finished himself off. Then he had lifted up my shirt and
moved my bra up and touched my breast."
At this point in Victim's testimony, the prosecutor asked
Victim to provide more detail about the earlier touching.
Specifically, the prosecutor asked Victim to "describe
where on your vagina he touched." Victim testified,
"He touched the general area. Then when he was trying to
put his fingers up he separated the labia" using
"[j]ust one hand, his two fingers." Victim further
testified, "It really hurt. I had never felt anything
like that before."
The question before us is whether a reasonable jury, after
hearing this testimony, could find beyond a reasonable doubt
that Defendant caused "penetration, however slight, of
[Victim's] genital . . . opening." See Utah
Code Ann. § 76-5-402.2(1) (LexisNexis Supp. 2016). We
therefore review the evidence in detail, bearing in mind that
the evidence presented to the jury must speak to ...