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People v. Bridges

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Second Division

May 22, 2014

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Patrick Sean Bridges, Defendant-Appellant.

Arapahoe County District Court No. 09CR1013 Honorable Gerald J. Rafferty, Judge

John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Erin K. Grundy, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Douglas K. Wilson, Public Defender, Alan Kratz, Deputy Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

OPINION

ASHBY JUDGE

¶1 Defendant, Patrick Sean Bridges, appeals the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of sexual assault on a child, among other charges. We reverse the judgment and remand for a new trial.

I. Background

¶2 S.B., Bridges’ daughter, alleged that he had sexually abused her. The People charged Bridges with three counts of sexual assault on a child – pattern of abuse, three counts of aggravated incest, and one count of enticement of a child.

¶3 At trial, there was no physical evidence that Bridges had sexually abused S.B., and the only direct evidence of the abuse was S.B.’s trial testimony and the video of her forensic interview in which she described the abuse. S.B. both testified at trial and stated in her interview that A.Q., her stepsister, had witnessed the abuse and had herself been abused by Bridges.

¶4 In her own forensic interview that was admitted at trial, A.Q. stated that S.B. told her several times about being abused by Bridges. However, at trial, A.Q. testified that she had not witnessed any abuse of S.B., S.B. never told her about being abused by Bridges, and she had not been abused by Bridges herself.

¶5 The forensic interviewer who conducted both interviews also testified at trial after being qualified and accepted as an expert in “forensic interviewing including the part and parcel of the forensic interviewing looking for coaching, deception, those types of things.” In response to questions from the jury, he testified, over Bridges’ objection, that he concluded that S.B. and A.Q. had not been coached before their respective interviews.

¶6 The jury found Bridges guilty of one count of sexual assault on a child (no pattern), one count of aggravated incest, and one count of enticement of a child. The trial court convicted and sentenced him accordingly.

¶7 Bridges appeals, first arguing that the court erred by allowing the forensic interviewer to testify that S.B. and A.Q. had not been coached in their respective forensic interviews. Because we agree that admitting this testimony was reversible error, we do not address any additional arguments on appeal.

II. Standard of Review

¶8 We review a court’s evidentiary rulings for an abuse of discretion. See Davis v. People, 2013 CO 57, ¶13. If we determine that the court abused its discretion, we must then decide whether the aggrieved party is entitled to relief. The proper standard of review for this decision turns on whether the court’s error ...


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