Kramer guilty of child sexual abuse
Case Number: 16-2048
Judge: Amanda Potterfield
Court: COURT OF APPEALS OF IOWA
Plaintiff's Attorney: Thomas J. Miller
Louis S. Sloven
Assistant Attorney General
Defendant's Attorney: Angela Campbell
Description: In December 2015, the State charged Kramer by trial information with
indecent contact with a child. It was alleged the conduct occurred in December
2014, when P.W.—the complaining witness—was twelve years old and staying at
The next day, the county attorney filed a motion to have a guardian ad litem
(GAL) appointed. The motion requested the attorney by name, stating the attorney
“has agreed to provide said representation.” The district court granted the motion.
In April 2016, Kramer deposed P.W.
In May, the State amended the charges filed against Kramer to sexual
abuse in the third degree1 and lascivious acts with a child,2 both class “C” felonies.
In June, the GAL filed a motion asking the court to “issue a protective order
to bar the defendant from deposing the child victim again” because “[f]urther
depositions of the child are unnecessary and abusive to the child” and “[a]ny
amendments to the original trial information . . . stem from the same series of
events that were the basis for the questions by counsel for defendant.”
At a hearing on the motion, Kramer orally resisted the motion, claiming he
was entitled to a second deposition because of the amended and substituted trial
information. The court noted that the elements of the original charge and the later
charges were different but that “all are based on the same conduct and incident, “
and “it is not apparent, . . . after reading the deposition, what additional information
defense counsel could learn about the incident by asking additional questions.”
The court granted the GAL’s motion, which had been joined by the prosecutor, but
further elaborated, “[T]his order is without prejudice to Defendant filing an
application for a further deposition of the child victim specifying his intended
area(s) of inquiry and why the current deposition is not sufficient in those regards.”
Kramer never filed the responsive application.
The criminal case was tried to the bench in September. At trial, P.W.
testified about a specific instance when she was living in Kramer’s home in
December 2014, where she was sitting on the couch with Kramer and he was
massaging her feet. At some point during the massage, she fell asleep. She
1 Iowa Code § 709.4 (2014). 2 Iowa Code § 709.8.
awoke some time later to P.W. using her feet to rub his penis through his
sweatpants. P.W. fell back asleep. Later, she woke up and sat up, removing her
feet from Kramer’s hands and placing them on the floor. She testified Kramer then
began giving her a hand massage with his hands but ultimately moved her hand
to his genitals and then proceeded to use her hand to massage his genitals in the
same manner he used her feet and toes.
Kramer testified in his own defense. He testified it was not uncommon for
him to give P.W. a hand or foot massage, but he denied ever purposefully using
P.W.’s hand or feet to touch or massage his genitals. He testified there was at
least one instance where he was giving her a hand massage and they both fell
asleep, with her hand then falling into the area of his genitals. He testified similarly
to giving her a foot massage and ultimately having “one or both of them fall asleep”
with her foot then falling onto his stomach then “slid[ing] down if she’s moving
Two police officers who conducted an interview with Kramer testified that
he knew of the incident in question before they began interviewing him. He denied
ever forcing her hand or foot to his genitals but agreed it was possible her hand or
feet had touched his penis through his clothes. When he was asked if he had an
erection, Kramer qualified that it was not a “full-blown erection” and compared it to
“morning wood.” At trial, Kramer denied ever telling the officers he had any
erection of any sort.
On October 13, the court found Kramer guilty as charged. In reaching its
determination, the court noted:
Although the 14 year old witness was interviewed by a forensic interview, deposed by defense counsel and gave testimony at trial, there is no evidence that she made inconsistent statements regarding any material issue. She also appeared to have nothing to gain or any other motivation to fabricate her testimony. Finally, her testimony was reasonable and consistent with surrounding circumstances.
In November, Kramer filed a motion for new trial, informing the court for the
first time that the GAL for the minor child had previously represented Kramer in an
adoption proceeding in 2014, the same year in which the child resided with Kramer
and his wife. Kramer maintained the GAL’s representation of P.W. “constituted a
conflict.” At the hearing on the motion, Kramer argued “that the Defendant has a
right to an impartial trial and we almost have to assume that there was prejudice.”
The GAL testified, “The Defendant and his wife had been approved by [the Iowa
Department of Human Services (DHS)] to adopt a child that was in their care. So
I was contacted by DHS and the family to prepare the paperwork.” She later
In a DHS adoption, DHS has custody of the child so they—the DHS manager, supervisor will sign a release, a consent to the adoption. So it’s not a matter of what I think of the adoption. Petitioners—the only option for that adoption is with the Petitioners who have been approved by DHS.
When asked directly if she had provided the victim with any privileged information
she obtained from Kramer, the GAL said, “No.” When asked if she “ever revealed
any information to [the county attorney] about this adoption proceeding involving
the defendant,” the GAL testified:
Not that I can recall right offhand. Typically, if I am ever appointed guardian a[d] litem in a criminal case, there’s not much contact between myself and the County Attorney’s Office other than for things such as scheduling, you know, more routine procedural
matters like that. There is rarely ever, if any, substantive information shared. The county attorney asked again if the GAL could “think of any substantive
information that you ever provided the County Attorney’s Office,” and she replied,
“No, not—there wasn’t any to provide and I don’t—I didn’t provide any.”
She also testified that Kramer’s trial counsel—Kramer had obtained
different counsel after the verdict was entered—had been aware of her
representation of Kramer in the earlier case. During the hearing, Kramer’s counsel
asked the GAL why she had not “reveal[ed] to the court early on that [she] had
represented [Kramer],” and the GAL responded:
Those were substantially different matters and that DHS adoption, I have very little actual contact with the family who is adopting. My payment comes through DHS. All the information comes through DHS. The DHS adoptions are substantially different than a private adoption matter. So the actual relationship forming information gathering, that is typically done in adoptions simply does not need to be done in a DHS adoption because DHS has investigated the family and actually signed that this is the family that should adopt the child.
The court denied Kramer’s motion, ruling from the bench:
According to the evidence provided by [the GAL], she provided no information learned in the adoption proceedings to either the victim or the County Attorney nor did she use any such information in these proceedings. Secondly, as this Court has listened to what information is typically normally obtained in DHS adoptions and in consideration how that might materially advance the victim’s position in these proceedings, this doesn’t seem that it would. . . . And it would require, to my total speculation, to conclude that it did or could.
Kramer was sentenced to a ten-year term of incarceration for each charge,
with the two terms running concurrently with each other. He was also sentenced
to a special sentence for both convictions, pursuant to Iowa Code section 903B.1.
A. Conflict of Interest.
In a posttrial motion, Kramer informed the court the GAL appointed for P.W.
had previously represented him (and his wife) in an adoption proceeding involving
DHS. He asked for a new trial pursuant to Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure
2.24(2)(9), which allows the court to grant a new trial “[w]hen from any other cause
the defendant has not received a fair and impartial trial.” As we are reviewing the
district court’s denial of a motion for new trial,3 we review the decision for an abuse
of discretion.4 See, e.g., State v. Atley, 564 N.W.2d 817, 821 (Iowa 1997) (stating
generally that denials of motions for new trial are reviewed for an abuse of
Kramer must establish both that there was a conflict of interest with the
GAL’s representation of him and then later his accuser and that he suffered an
adverse effect. See State v. Vaughan, 859 N.W.2d 492, 500 (Iowa 2015) (“When
neither the defendant nor his or her attorney raises the conflict of interest [before
trial], the defendant is required to show an adverse effect on counsel’s
3 Insofar as Kramer argues trial counsel was ineffective for failing to raise the issue of the conflict sooner in the criminal proceedings, we preserve the argument for further development of the record in a possible later action. See State v. Johnson, 784 N.W.2d 192, 198 (Iowa 2010) (“If the defendant requests that the court decide the claim on direct appeal, it is for the court to determine whether the record is adequate and, if so, to resolve the claim. If, however, the court determines the claim cannot be addressed on appeal, the court must preserve it for a postconviction-relief proceeding, regardless of the court’s view of the potential viability of the claim.”). The hearing on the motion for new trial was inadequate, in our view, to determine whether the conflict created an adverse effect for Kramer. 4 Kramer maintains our review is de novo. If we were reviewing a timely conflict-of-interest allegation, he would be correct. See State v. Vaughan, 859 N.W.2d 492, 497 (Iowa 2015). The way the issue was preserved controls our review, and we are reviewing a denial of a motion for new trial. Our review is for an abuse of discretion.
performance to warrant reversal, even if the trial court should have known about
the conflict and failed to inquire.” (citing Mickens v. Taylor, 535 U.S. 162, 172–74
(2002))); see also Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 337–38, 346–47 (1980) (where
neither the codefendants or their joint attorneys raised the issue of a conflict of
interest and the district court had no reason to know of the conflict, the defendant
challenging his conviction on appeal was required to show an actual conflict
existed). “[A]n adverse effect occurs when counsel fails to pursue a plausible
strategy or tactic due to the existence of a conflict of interest.” Vaughan, 859
N.W.2d at 501.
Iowa Rule of Professional Conduct 32:1.9(1) provides, “A lawyer who has
formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter represent another
person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests
are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client
gives consent, confirmed in writing.” If “there is a substantial relationship between
the former and current representations,” then Kramer has established that there
was a conflict of interest. See Doe ex. rel. Doe v. Perry Cmty. Sch. Dist., 650
N.W.2d 594, 598 (Iowa 2002). “In determining whether a substantial relationship
exists, we consider: (1) the nature and scope of the prior representation; (2) the
nature of the present lawsuit; and (3) whether the client might have disclosed a
confidence to her attorney in the prior representation which could be relevant to
the present action.” Id.
We need not determine if there was a conflict in the GAL’s representation
of P.W. because Kramer has not even attempted to establish how he was
negatively impacted.5 Rather, he maintains, “Since there was a conflict of interest
in [the GAL] representing P.W. throughout the trial, a new trial is the only plausible
remedy.” But “automatic reversal is required under the Sixth Amendment only
when the trial court refuses to inquire into a conflict of interest over defendant’s or
counsel’s objection.” Vaughan, 859 N.W.2d at 500. As stated above, “[T]he
defendant still has to establish that the alleged conflict materialized into an actual
conflict.” Id. at 500. And here, the court held a hearing at which the GAL testified,
although equivocally and apparently with some difficulty of recall, she did not
share any privileged information with P.W. or the county attorney. The GAL did,
however, actively participate in Kramer’s criminal trial proceedings. On this record,
we cannot find Kramer has established his trial was unfair as a result of the GAL’s
representation of the complaining witness. Because Kramer has not established
he was adversely affected, we cannot say the trial court abused its discretion when
it denied his motion for new trial.
B. Sufficiency of the Evidence.
Kramer challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his
convictions. Specifically, he maintains the sex-act element of sexual abuse in the
third degree and the “touching” element of lascivious acts with a child require skin
to-skin contact between the perpetrator and the complaining witness, which was
lacking from P.W.’s allegations.
5 While Vaughan prevents us from finding the trial court abused its discretion in denying Kramer’s motion for new trial, we are troubled by the attorney’s willingness to accept the appointment representing the complaining witness against her former client. Especially here, where the county prosecutor specifically requested the GAL by name and, when asked, the GAL was equivocal in whether she had ever revealed any information to the county attorney.
We review challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence for correction of
errors at law. See State v. Keeton, 710 N.W.2d 531, 532 (Iowa 2006). “We
consider all record evidence not just the evidence supporting guilt when we make
sufficiency-of-the-evidence determinations.” Id. (citation omitted). “However, in
making such determinations, we also view the ‘evidence in the light most favorable
to the State, including legitimate inferences and presumptions that may fairly and
reasonably be deduced from the record evidence.’” Id. (citation omitted).
i. Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree. Sexual abuse in the third degree is,
as relevant here, when a “person performs a sex act” and “[t]he act is between
persons who are not at the time cohabitating as husband and wife” and “[t]he other
person is twelve or thirteen years of age.” Iowa Code § 709.4(1)(b)(2) (2014). A
“sex act” includes “[c]ontact between the finger or hand of one person and the
genitalia or anus of another person.” Id. § 702.17(4).
Here, P.W. testified that while he was wearing sweatpants, Kramer “used
[her] fingers to kind of massage [his penis] that way.” She testified that her hand
was over his clothes and Kramer never disrobed. Kramer contends this does not
meet the definition of sex act and argues that the legislature would have specified
that it meant over-the-clothes touching was included in the act if that was its
However, as Kramer recognizes, our supreme court has already decided
otherwise. In State v. Pearson, 514 N.W.2d 452, 455 (Iowa 1994), the court held
“that skin-to-skin contact is not required in order to establish a ‘sex act’ under
section 702.17.” As the court noted, “There is no language in the statute which
would limit its scope in this way.” Pearson, 514 N.W.2d at 455.
Kramer attempts to distinguish the actions P.W. testified about from the
actions of the defendant in Pearson, noting the defendant in Pearson “touched his
clothed penis to the clothed anus of the child, while simulating anal sex and making
comments about ejaculating on him.” Kramer’s distinction is that he “made no
such comments.” But sexual comments are not a necessary part of a “sex act,” as
defined by the statute. See Iowa Code § 702.17. Thus, Kramer’s distinction fails.
Additionally, insofar as Kramer maintains we should “narrow” the decision
or find it was wrongly decided, it is not this court’s role to do so. See Figley v. W.S.
Indus., 801 N.W.2d 602, 608 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011) (“[W]e are not at liberty to
overturn precedent of our supreme court.”).
ii. Lascivious Acts with a Child. Iowa Code section 709.8(1)(c) prohibits
“any person sixteen years of age or older to” “[c]ause the touching of the person’s
genitals to any part of the body of a child” “for the purpose of arousing or satisfying
the sexual desires of either of them.” Here, P.W. testified that Kramer used her
feet (which may have been clothed in socks) to massage his penis. She testified
Kramer was wearing sweatpants at the time and he never placed her feet under
Similar to his argument above, Kramer maintains the “touching” element of
section 709.8(1)(c) requires skin-to-skin contact. He argues the clothed contact is
prohibited by the less serious offense6 of indecent contact with a child—found in
Iowa Code section 709.12—and ruling section 709.8 applies to clothed touching
“creates substantial overlap.” But again, our supreme court has considered and
6 Iowa Code section 709.12 is an aggravated misdemeanor, as opposed to a felony.
ruled on this issue, stating, “[C]ommon ground would not be problematic. Overlap
only prevents double convictions or double punishments, not a single conviction
on one charge based on the prosecutor’s charging discretion.” State v. Alvarado,
875 N.W.2d 713, 718 (Iowa 2016). Additionally, the court noted such an
interpretation would not “create overlap between section 709.8 and section 709.12
because the two statutes address different (though proximate) body parts.” Id. at
720. The court ultimately ruled, “[A] person can touch another’s pubes or genitals
within the meaning of Iowa Code section 709.8 . . . without making skin-to-skin
contact. As under section 702.17, there is no express requirement of skin-to-skin
touching in section 709.8.” Id.
Although the Alvarado court was asked to determine whether skin-to-skin
contact was required under section 709.8(1)(a), where the person is fondling or
touching the pubes of genitals of the child, as opposed to section 709.8(1)(c),
where the person causes the touching of the person’s genitals to the body of the
child (the conduct of which Kramer was convicted), there is no reason to treat the
two subsections differently. This is especially true considering the supreme court’s
holding considered section 709.8 generally. See id.
Because skin-to-skin contact is not a necessary element for a “sex act”
within sexual abuse in the third degree or “touching” within lascivious acts as a
child, the district court did not err in convicting Kramer of the two crimes.
C. Written Findings.
Next, Kramer maintains “the district court erred in finding that the alleged
victim did not have inconsistencies in her stories or a motive to fabricate in the face
of evidence to the contrary.”
It is unclear what type of argument Kramer is making here. He cites a
sufficiency-of-the-evidence standard for his preservation argument, but he asks for
a new trial, which implies to us that he is challenging the weight of the evidence.
See State v. Smithson, 594 N.W.2d 1, 3 (Iowa 1999) (reversing the conviction on
the sufficiency-of-the-evidence grounds and remanding for the entry of a judgment
of acquittal); see also State v. Ary, 877 N.W.2d 686, 706 (Iowa 2016) (discussing
the court’s power to grant a new trial when the verdict is contrary to the weight of
the evidence). Additionally, Kramer attacks the court’s finding that P.W. was
credible, arguing she made inconsistent statements and had a motive to lie.
Credibility determinations are properly challenged within a weight-of-the-evidence
claim. See State v. Reeves, 670 N.W.2d 199, 202 (Iowa 2003) (noting “the power
of the court is much broader [when reviewing a challenge to the weight of the
evidence because it] may weigh the evidence and consider the credibility of
witnesses”). Insofar as it is a weight-of-the-evidence challenge, this has not been
preserved for our review.7 See State v. Demaris, No. 03-0979, 2004 WL 159782,
at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. May 26, 2004) (finding the defendant’s weight-of-the-evidence
challenge was not preserved following a bench trial, when the defendant failed to
file a motion for new trial (citing State v. Ellis, 578 N.W.2d 655 (Iowa 1998))).
If we understand Kramer’s argument as one that specifically challenges
whether there is substantial evidence to support the court’s factfinding that (1) P.W.
did not make any material inconsistent statements and (2) she had no motive to
7 We acknowledge that Kramer filed two motions for new trial, but neither specifically challenged the weight of the evidence.
lie, it is unclear what advantage Kramer receives from such a challenge.8 See
State v. Thomas, 561 N.W.2d 37, 39 (Iowa 1997) (“We review sufficiency-of
evidence challenges for correction of errors at law. The trial court’s findings of guilt
are binding on appeal if supported by substantial evidence”). Even if he “wins”
these claims, he has done nothing to attack the district court’s ruling that Kramer
was not credible when testifying about whether Kramer had used P.W.’s feet and
then her hand to massage his penis through his sweatpants. Although the court
relied in part on the above findings to reach the conclusion P.W. was credible, it
also noted her testimony about the event “was reasonable and consistent with
surrounding circumstances,” whereas Kramer’s testimony that he had given P.W.
a hand massage “where either one or both of [them] would fall asleep” and her
hand would then “relax and fall” into his genital area was not credible. As the court
The testimony of the Defendant and [his wife] that P.W.’s hand would fall into the Defendant’s lap when P.W. and Defendant would both fall asleep during a hand massage is not reasonable under the circumstances. What they say is conceivable only in the unlikely situation that P.W. and Defendant would fall asleep at precisely the same time. It otherwise makes little sense. If the Defendant fell asleep first it would seem he would cease massaging and it does not seem likely that P.W. would have allowed her hand to fall onto the Defendant’s genitals. On the other hand, if P.W. would have fallen asleep first, it seems there would have been no legitimate purpose for the Defendant to continue to massage P.W.’s hand while she slept and until the Defendant also fell asleep and allowing P.W.’s hand to then fall onto his genitals. In short, the Defendant’s explanation as to why P.W.’s hand came into contact with his genitals
8 Even if we determine there is not substantial evidence to support the district court’s finding that P.W. had no motive to lie, that is not the same thing as finding P.W. actually lied. Similarly, P.W. could have made inconsistent statements—such as writing in her journal that Kramer “showed it to her” but testifying that she had never seen his penis— but still been found credible regarding whether Kramer used her hand and feet to massage his penis.
is not reasonable and diminishes the credibility of the Defendant and his wife.
Even if Kramer was successful in claiming substantial evidence does not support
the specific findings of fact he has challenged, viewing the evidence in the light
most favorable to the State, there is sufficient evidence to convict Kramer of sexual
abuse in the third degree and lascivious acts with a child.
D. Weight of the Evidence: P.W.’s Journal.
Kramer maintains the district court erred in giving the writings in P.W.’s
journal no weight. At trial, Kramer offered what he contended were some
photocopied pages from P.W.’s journal. When asked if she recognized the
document, P.W. testified she “d[id]n’t know what journal or anything this would be
in.” When asked if it was her handwriting, P.W. stated it “[l]ooks like it” and said it
“might have been” from one of her journals. She testified, “Maybe one of my old
journals maybe. I’m not sure.” When asked if it was a true and accurate
representation of what she wrote, she responded, “I can’t read some of the stuff
on here. I can’t make out some of this.” The State objected to the admission of
the page, claiming there was a lack of foundation as to identification or accuracy.
The district court admitted the document as an exhibit.
In its written ruling, the court ruled, “Considering all the circumstances,
including the fact the original notebook was not provided or identified and the
source of the photocopy was not otherwise established, the court has given this
exhibit no weight.” Kramer maintains this was an abuse of discretion.
As noted above, in order to preserve a challenge to the weight of the
evidence, Kramer must have filed a motion for new trial alleging the same. See
Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.24(2)(b)(6); State v. McCullough, No. 11-1949, 2012 WL
5541238, at *4 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 15, 2012) (“The State contends [the defendant]
waived this argument by failing to raise a weight-of-the-evidence argument in his
motion for new trial or at the hearing on that motion. Because the defendant did
not advance that ground for a new trial, the district court did not address the weight
of the evidence in its ruling. We agree with the State that [the defendant] did not
preserve error on the weight-of-the-evidence argument.”). Although he filed two
motions for new trial, neither raised the issue of alleged error.
This claim has not been preserved for our review, and we do not consider
it further. See Lamasters v. State, 821 N.W.2d 856, 862 (Iowa 2012) (“It is a
fundamental doctrine of appellate review that issues must ordinarily be both raised
and decided by the district court before we will decide them on appeal.” (citation
E. Second Deposition.
Kramer claims the district court should not have prevented him from
deposing P.W. a second time after the State filed an amended and substituted trial
information. While defendants generally have a right to depose witnesses to be
called on behalf of the State, “the right is subject to reasonable regulation [by the
trial court.]” State v. Clark, 814 N.W.2d 551, 563 (Iowa 2012) (alteration in
original). The right is provided by Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.13, which
“does not delineate a right to a second deposition.” Id. at 564. Additionally, “the
right to present a defense does not afford a criminal defendant the right to depose
witnesses. A criminal defendant has no due process right to pretrial discovery.”
Id. at 561. Thus, we review for an abuse of discretion. See State v. Neiderbach,
837 N.W.2d 180, 190 (Iowa 2013) (“Nonconstitutional challenges to discovery
rulings are reviewed for an abuse of discretion.”).
Kramer maintains the district court should have allowed him to depose P.W.
a second time because his “case vastly changed after the State amended the
charges” from one aggravated misdemeanor to two class “C” felonies. However,
as the district court recognized, the changed charges were the result of information
provided by P.W. in her initial deposition and “all are based on the same conduct
and incident.”9 Additionally, in its ruling, the court invited Kramer to “fil[e] an
application for a further deposition of the child victim specifying his intended
area(s) of inquiry and why the current deposition is not sufficient in those regards.”
Kramer did not do so before trial, and he has not elucidated on appeal how a
second deposition would have benefitted him.
Under these circumstances, we cannot say the district court abused its
discretion in preventing Kramer from taking a second deposition of P.W.
F. Admission of Deposition Testimony.
Kramer maintains the district court erred in admitting P.W.’s deposition over
his objection at trial. Kramer maintains the deposition testimony was inadmissible
hearsay. See State v. Rainsong, 807 N.W.2d 283, 289 (Iowa 2011) (“If the
declarant would reasonably expect the prosecution to use his or her extrajudicial
9 Kramer also maintains: At the time of the first deposition, the fact that there were clothes on or off was completely immaterial. The details and nature of the touching were also somewhat immaterial, given the fact that any touching of the area through the clothing satisfied the elements of indecent contact with a child. That is not necessarily true for the elements of sex act and touching for sex abuse in the third degree and lascivious acts with a child. As we have already rejected this argument above, we do not consider it again.
statements contained in affidavits or depositions at trial, the extrajudicial
statements are testimonial hearsay.”). We review a court’s hearsay ruling for
correction of errors at law. See State v. Elliot, 806 N.W.2d 660, 667 (Iowa 2011).
“[A]dmission of hearsay evidence is prejudicial to the nonoffering party unless the
contrary is shown.” Id. (quoting State v. Ross, 573 N.W.2d 906, 910 (Iowa 1998)).
At trial, P.W. testified she was getting a foot massage from Kramer when
she fell asleep, later awaking to find him using her foot to massage his penis
through his clothing. During cross-examination, defense counsel asked if P.W.
remembered being asked during her deposition to tell him in her own words what
she remembered. He then read her statement from her deposition, “[W]hat
happened was I started to fall asleep and everything and I was really comfy and I
fell asleep and then I came in and out of sleep. I found myself with my foot in
[Kramer’s] area,” before asking, “So is that testimony what you said at the
deposition . . . different than what you said here today?” In response, the State
offered various lines from eight pages of P.W.’s deposition to rebut the defense’s
implication P.W. had changed her testimony.
The court admitted the lines offered by the State, ruling:
The Court will be glad to receive into evidence any portion of the deposition that relates to that portion which has been offered by [defense counsel] and also any portion of it that goes to the—goes to rebut the implication that the witness is changing her testimony regarding the massaging or anything else.
Iowa Rule of Evidence 5.801(d)(1)(B) provides that a declarant-witness’s
prior statement, when the declarant testifies and is subject to cross-examination
about that statement, and which is “consistent with the declarant’s testimony and
is offered to rebut an express or implied charge that the declarant recently
fabricated it or acted from a recent improper influence or motive in so testifying,” is
not hearsay. Here, Kramer maintains that the deposition testimony admitted by
the district court was not directly responsive to the defense’s implication P.W. had
changed her story by testifying Kramer was giving her a foot massage at the time
she initially fell asleep. The State concedes in its appellate brief that the excerpts
“were not directly responsive to the purported impeachment.”
However, the State was allowed to offer P.W.’s prior consistent
statements—even those not directly on point regarding when or whether she fell
asleep—to rebut the defense’s implication her version of events had been recently
fabricated and to rehabilitate P.W.’s credibility. See, e.g., State v. Johnson, 539
N.W.2d 160, 163 (Iowa 1995) (“[W]e have held the use of prior statements
consistent with a witness’s testimony is appropriate to rehabilitate an impeached
witness.”)10; State v. Brotherton, 384 N.W.2d 375, 380 (Iowa 1986) (holding prior
consistent statements of sexual abuse victim relayed to a social worker were
admissible to rebut the implication of improper influence or motive on cross
examination). The State could offer the evidence “to rebut the defendant’s express
and implied allegations of improper motive.” Johnson, 539 N.W.2d at 163 (citing
David F. Binder, Hearsay Handbook § 2.12, at 70 (3d ed. 1991) (“The credibility of
a witness is impeached when a party suggests that the witness is an unreliable
historian. Such suggestion may be made by . . . charging or implying that the
10 Since Johnson, a second component of whether statements are admissible under rule 5.801(d)(1)(B) is whether the prior consistent statement was made before the alleged improper motive to fabricate arose. 539 N.W.2d at 165. Here, we understand defense counsel’s implication at trial to be that P.W.’s story or version of events had changed since her deposition; thus the deposition testimony used by the State preceded the time of the alleged fabrication. Neither party raised the issue of timing in their appellate briefs.
witness’s testimony is the product of conscious fabrication.”)). Insofar as the
admitted portion contained more than prior consistent statements, we note the
district court clearly articulated the purpose for which the deposition was admitted
and its intention to restrict the evidence to such use. See Jasper v. State, 477
N.W.2d 852, 857 (Iowa 1991) (“[In a bench trial, a] court’s mere knowledge of
inadmissible evidence does not predicate error if the court states it will not consider
the inadmissible evidence.”).
We cannot say the district court erred in this evidentiary ruling.
Outcome: Having considered each of Kramer’s claims and finding no reversible error,
we affirm his convictions.