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Carl William Peterson v. the State of Wyoming

February 9, 2012

CARL WILLIAM PETERSON, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable Michael N. Deegan, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Golden, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1 Appellant Carl William Peterson appeals his convictions for second degree sexual abuse of a minor and soliciting a minor to engage in sexual relations, raising multiple allegations of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. We will affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] Peterson presents the following issue for our review:

Did the cumulative effect of trial counsel's general lack of preparation, failure to investigate, failure to propose jury instructions and general incompetence amount to ineffective assistance of counsel?

FACTS

[¶3] The victim, born in 2002, resided with Peterson and his girlfriend, SP, in 2007. While living there, the victim and Peterson frequently played a "naked game" in which the two touched each other's private parts with their hands or a "purple thing."*fn1

According to the victim, SP occasionally participated in the game and, at Peterson's direction, the victim would also touch her private parts*fn2 with either his hands or the purple thing.

[¶4] In September 2007, the victim was at his grandparents' house in Rapid City, South Dakota, with his two-year-old cousin. As the grandmother prepared the two for a bath, she was interrupted by a telephone call. When she entered the bathroom, she observed the victim on his knees with his mouth on his cousin's penis. She asked the victim about his actions, and he responded that he had not hurt his cousin or done all the things that Peterson had done to him. The grandmother subsequently contacted Lisa Porisch, a licensed professional mental health counselor in Rapid City.

[¶5] During his therapy sessions with Porisch, the victim reported, among other things, that Peterson had made him lick his "peepee," Peterson had touched his "peepee," he had played and slept naked with Peterson, and that he was scared a lot of the time. Porisch reported the victim's allegations to the Department of Social Services in South Dakota, which in turn reported the alleged sexual abuse to the Wyoming Department of Family Services. Thereafter, Lara Hawkins of the Child Advocacy Center of the Black Hills in Rapid City conducted a standard and follow-up forensic interview of the victim, during which he described in detail his sexual activities with Peterson, and forwarded her report summarizing those interviews to Child Protection Services in Rapid City and to the Campbell County Sheriff's Department in Wyoming. Eventually, the victim was placed in a children's residential home in South Dakota because he was performing or attempting to perform overtly sexual acts with other children and was highly sexualized.

[¶6] On December 6, 2007, Investigator Gary Sams of the Campbell County Sheriff's Department interviewed Peterson's girlfriend, SP, regarding the victim's allegations. SP described two specific incidents to Investigator Sams. The first took place between July 1 and 16, 2007, when she witnessed Peterson and the victim in the living room of their residence masturbating each other. The second one occurred between July 16 and August 1, 2007, when she, the victim, and Peterson were naked in bed together. According to SP, Peterson directed the victim to, and the victim did, use a sexual toy on her. SP reported this occurred after the three had finished watching a pornographic movie.

[¶7] A week later, on December 12, 2007, the State filed a four-count Felony Information charging Peterson with second degree sexual abuse of a minor under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-315(a)(iii) (LexisNexis 2011)*fn3 (Count I), two counts of first degree sexual abuse of a minor under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-314(a)(ii) (LexisNexis 2011)*fn4 (Counts II and III), and soliciting a minor to engage in sexual relations under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-318 (LexisNexis 2011)*fn5 (Count IV). After several continuances, Peterson's jury trial began on September 21, 2009. The jury found Peterson guilty on Counts I and IV but acquitted him on Counts II and III. The district court ...


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