ARS Section 13-1410 Interpretation

In Maricopa County Juv. Action No. JV-121430, 172 Ariz. 604, 606-07, 838 P.2d 1365, 1367-68 (App. 1992), the Court interpreted a prior version of A.R.S. 13-1410 which made it a crime to "knowingly molest a child under the age of fourteen years by directly or indirectly touching the private parts of such child . . . ." 172 Ariz. at 606 n.2, 838 P.2d at 1367 n.2. Because the statute did not define "molest," a term which the court noted connoted sexual motivation, it clarified the requisite mental state for the crime of molestation. Courts interpreting this version of the child molestation statute required a showing of an "unnatural or abnormal sexual interest." See, e.g., State v. Trenary, 79 Ariz. 351, 354, 290 P.2d 250, 252 (1955); Pima County Juv. Appeal No. 74802-2, 164 Ariz. 25, 33-34, 790 P.2d 723, 731-32 (1990); State v. Anderson, 128 Ariz. 91, 92, 623 P.2d 1247, 1248 (App. 1980). Construing the term "molest" in light of certain statutory changes, including the enactment of A.R.S. 13-1407(E), the court concluded "the intent necessary to commit the crime of molestation is . . . that the actor be motivated by a 'sexual interest.'". Id. at 606-07, 838 P.2d at 1367-68. In State v. Lujan, the defendant was convicted of child molestation when he touched a child on her private parts while swimming in a pool. 192 Ariz. at 450-51, PP2, 7, 967 P.2d at 125-26. Defendant claimed that although he had physical contact with the victim, he never touched her private parts. Id. at 451, P 8, 967 P.2d at 126. Because the offense occurred in 1993, the defendant was convicted under a similar, but modified, version of A.R.S. 13-1410, which made it a crime to "knowingly molest a child under the age of fifteen years by directly or indirectly touching private parts of such child . . . ." Id. at 451, P 7, 967 P.2d at 126. Relying on JV-121430 and A.R.S. 13-1407(E), the Arizona Supreme Court, in dicta, similarly interpreted the "knowingly molests" language as requiring an additional finding that a defendant be motivated by a "sexual interest." Lujan, 192 Ariz. at 451, P7, 967 P.2d at 126.