State v. Ives

In State v. Ives, 187 Ariz. 102, 927 P.2d 762 (Ariz. 1996), the defendant was charged with four counts that he had directly or indirectly touched the private parts of three young female victims. The trial court admitted the testimony of a fourth young female who stated that the defendant had touched her vagina over her clothing on a number of occasions when she was four years of age. The state argued that the evidence was admissible to show intent and lack of accident or mistake. In support of its argument the state emphasized that the defendant admitted touching two of the victims, but argued that there was no sexual intent. The court rejected this argument: "Defendant did not claim that he touched the girls in the proscribed manner but did so by accident or mistake. Instead, defendant consistently maintained he did not touch the girls in any illegal way. . . . The state has repeatedly characterized portions of defendant's testimony as admissions of touching the girls. . . . Defendant only admitted that he touched L.M. to help her up to a cabinet and that he touched T.J. to dry her off with a towel at her parents' request. It seems likely that many defendants charged with child molestation will have had occasions for legal touching of the alleged victims. There is simply no issue in this case as to whether defendant "accidently" or "mistakenly" rubbed the victims' private parts. Instead, the issue is whether defendant did the acts at all. As the trial transcripts very clearly demonstrate, the issue at trial was one of credibility; did the jurors believe the girls or did they believe defendant?" (927 P.2d at 771.)