STATE v. RAFAEL ARIAS, SC 19587
Judicial District of Stamford-Norwalk at Stamford
Criminal; Search and Seizure; Whether Defendant Entitled to Miranda Warnings Because his Statements the Product of Custodial Interrogation; Whether Uncharged Prior Sexual Misconduct Propensity Evidence Properly Admitted Under State v. DeJesus. The defendant and the victim worked together and, at one point, the defendant was the victim’s supervisor. The victim reported to Norwalk police that the defendant had sexually assaulted her, and the defendant learned of the victim’s report and went to the police station to address it. He met with a police detective, who brought the defendant to an interview room and spoke with him for approximately forty-five minutes, during which time the defendant admitted to having a sexual encounter with the victim but claimed that it had been consensual. The defendant then typed out a sworn statement and left the police station. The defendant subsequently was charged with sexual assault. Before trial, he filed a motion to suppress the statements he gave at the police station, claiming that he had not been given Miranda warnings at the police station and that the statements he gave there were the product of a custodial interrogation. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, finding that the defendant went to the police station voluntarily and that he was not in custody there in that he had been free to leave at any time. The defendant also sought to preclude the state from introducing at the trial uncharged sexual misconduct evidence; specifically, evidence that the defendant had sexually harassed and inappropriately touched other female employees just as he was alleged to have done to the victim. The trial court denied the motion to preclude, ruling that the evidence was admissible under State v. DeJesus, 288 Conn. 418 (2008), in which the Supreme Court held that, while evidence of other misconduct is generally inadmissible to prove criminal propensity, “evidence of uncharged misconduct properly may be admitted in sex crime cases . . . provided its probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect, to establish that the defendant had . . . a propensity to engage in certain aberrant and compulsive sexual behavior.” The trial court determined (1) that the evidence could establish the defendant’s propensity for seeking sexual gratification by engaging in inappropriate conduct with female employees, and (2) that the evidence was not more prejudicial than probative. The defendant appeals from his conviction of two counts of sexual assault. He claims that the statements he made at the police station should have been suppressed because he was in custody for Miranda purposes when he gave them. The defendant also argues that the trial court improperly admitted the prior uncharged misconduct evidence under DeJesus where the defendant claims that the misconduct did not rise to the level of “aberrant and compulsive sexual behavior” as contemplated by DeJesus. Finally, the defendant argues that DeJesus should be overruled as unconstitutional in that it denies equal protection under the law by creating a separate class of accused persons against whom otherwise inadmissible propensity evidence can be admitted at trial.