2014 Opinion No. 23
Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Twin Falls County. Hon. G. Richard Bevan, District Judge.
Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Sarah E. Tompkins, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.
Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Nicole L. Schafer, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
GRATTON, Judge. Judge LANSING and Judge MELANSON CONCUR.
Valentin Calvillo appeals from his judgment of conviction for seven counts of lewd conduct with a minor child under sixteen, Idaho Code § 18-1508, and one count for sexual abuse of a child under the age of sixteen, I.C. § 18-1506. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Following an investigation, Calvillo was charged with sexually abusing a ten-year-old
[156 Idaho 284] girl (C.V.). The State charged him with eight counts of lewd conduct and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor. When the trial began, Calvillo's attorney told the jury that C.V. had a motive to lie and that Calvillo would testify. The State's first witness was C.V.'s sister. She testified that when C.V. first described the abuse she was upset and crying. C.V.'s mother, who was dating Calvillo at the time of the reported abuse, testified that Calvillo had contacted her several times and asked for forgiveness for hurting her. She also testified that Calvillo denied the alleged charges and did not admit to any inappropriate conduct with C.V. Several officers, forensic interviewers, and social workers also testified. These witnesses were offered to explain to the jury the specialized investigative process in child abuse cases and to show that Calvillo received the benefit of a full investigation. A nurse practitioner testified that a physical exam revealed no signs of sexual abuse. However, she also testified that a high majority of sexual abuse victims show no signs of abuse. C.V. testified to numerous acts of sexual abuse committed by Calvillo.
The day after C.V. testified, Calvillo did not return to court. He told his attorney he was ill. At a hearing conducted in his absence, the court dismissed one count of sexual abuse. The Court released the jury for the day and afforded Calvillo the opportunity to return to court the next morning. Calvillo absconded and failed to appear in court. After a hearing on the issue, the court found his absence was voluntary and the trial continued. The court instructed the jury not to consider Calvillo's presence or absence while deliberating and later instructed the jury not to draw any inference of guilt from the fact that he did not testify. During closing argument, on several occasions the prosecutor referenced C.V.'s testimony as " uncontroverted." Calvillo's attorney did not object and presented no closing argument. The jury ...