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State v. Njoku

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

February 16, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
EDWIN NJOKU

Argued October 27, 2015.

Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of Hartford, Vitale, J.

Richard S. Cramer, for the appellant (defendant).

Marjorie Allen Dauster, senior assistant state’s attorney, with whom, on the brief, were Gail P. Hardy, state’s attorney, Vicki Melchiorre, supervisory assistant state’s attorney, and Elizabeth S. Tanaka, assistant state’s attorney, for the appellee (state).

Keller, Mullins and Kahn, Js.

OPINION

KAHN, J.

The defendant, Edwin Njoku, appeals from the judgment of conviction, rendered following a jury trial, of sexual assault in the fourth degree in violation of General Statutes 53a-73a (a) (2) and tampering with a witness in violation of General Statutes § 53a-151 (a). On appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court erred in (1) denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal on the charge of tampering with a witness, (2) admitting evidence of prior acts of sexual misconduct of the defendant, and (3) refusing to admit evidence of a prior false allegation of sexual assault by the victim and prior sexual acts of the victim.[1] We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

On the basis of the evidence presented at trial, the jury reasonably could have found the following facts. The defendant was the victim’s physician. In 2011, the victim was seeing the defendant for a back injury that she sustained when she slipped and fell on ice. The victim had discussed the slip and fall with an attorney, who asked her to obtain her medical records from the defendant. On October 21, 2011, the victim called the defendant’s office to make an appointment to pick up the records and was told that the defendant would return her call. When the defendant called the victim, he told her to come to the office the following day at about 2 p.m.

On Saturday, October 22, 2011, the victim took a bus to the defendant’s office. She arrived between 2 and 2:10 p.m. Upon arrival, she did not see any staff members in the office. When she saw the defendant, he told her to go to one of the examination rooms. While the victim was sitting on an examination table, the defendant came into the room and asked the victim why she was there. After explaining that she had come to pick up her medical records, the defendant told her that he was going to check her back. While she was still sitting on the table, the defendant stood and touched her from her neck to her lower back. At one point, while touching the victim’s back with his left hand, the defendant put his right hand on the victim’s breast. When the victim pushed the defendant’s hands away and asked him what he was doing, the defendant told her that he was checking to see if she had breast cancer.

The victim told the defendant that she felt uncomfortable and wanted to leave. The defendant apologized for making her feel uncomfortable but told her to let him finish examining her. He asked the victim to lie on her back on the examining table. The defendant applied pressure to the victim’s chest with his left hand and then walked around her and unbuttoned her pants and zipper and pulled her pants down to her knees. The defendant then climbed on top of the victim. The victim was unsuccessful in pushing the defendant’s hands away from her chest and he was able to put his penis into her vagina. The defendant also pulled up the victim’s shirt and sports bra and put his mouth on her breast. He then removed his penis and ejaculated on her.

When the defendant got up to clean himself, the victim pulled her pants back up and left. Once at home, the victim had an argument with her father and then told her mother what the defendant had done to her. The victim then called 911 and was transported to a hospital by ambulance. She did not take a shower or change her clothes. While at the hospital, the victim told a police officer what had happened. A sexual assault forensic examiner examined the victim and administered the sexual assault kit, which included taking the victim’s clothing and swabs of her vaginal area, genital area, and breast. The defendant’s DNA was not found on the vaginal swab, but the defendant’s known DNA profile was consistent with the defendant being a source of DNA from the genital swab, the breast swab, and from the swab taken from the button, button hole and zipper pull of the victim’s jeans as well as cuttings from the crotch area of her jeans.

On November 4, 2011, the defendant called the victim’s cell phone and asked to speak to the victim’s father, who had been a patient of the defendant’s for approximately ten years.[2] When the victim’s father called the defendant back, the defendant asked him why he had missed a scheduled appointment. During the phone call, the defendant sounded worried or nervous and stated that ‘‘all human beings make mistakes and that talking, while talking, we could resolve problems.’’ The defendant also said that if he committed any error, ‘‘everything has a solution and we can fix it.’’ The defendant told the victim’s father to remember that he had been a good doctor to his family, and not to do anything against him because the victim’s father would destroy the defendant’s life if he said anything.

On November 10, 2011, East Hartford police officers executed warrants to search the defendant’s office and to obtain a buccal swab from him. On that date, the police transported the defendant to the police station to take the buccal swab and then transported him back to his office at the conclusion of that process.

On November 17, 2011, the defendant called Jesus Ruiz, an unemployed minister who was also a patient of the defendant’s, and asked if he could go to Ruiz’ home. Once at Ruiz’ home, the defendant appeared a little nervous and scared. The defendant asked Ruiz to go to the victim’s family to try to reach an agreement with them. The defendant explained that he was being accused of touching the victim and that the victim’s family wanted to destroy everything he had built. He told Ruiz that the victim went to her appointment with the defendant wearing a miniskirt and no underwear and that his mistake was seeing her alone. The defendant then asked Ruiz if he would ‘‘go to the family’s house and try to convince them so that they can reach an agreement outside the court with him, that he wasn’t rich and didn’t have a lot of money but he could reach an agreement outside of court.’’

Following this meeting, Ruiz went to see the victim’s family.[3] After speaking with the family and hearing their version of what had occurred, Ruiz told the family what the defendant had told him about offering money to resolve the matter.[4] Ruiz told the family not to accept the agreement. When Ruiz returned home, he called the defendant to tell him that the defendant had deceived him. ...


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