Kauffman wins sexual assault trial
Attorney Katie Kauffman won a trial in Clark County Superior Court last week for a client whose charges were upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony after he refused a deputy prosecutor’s plea offer.
The client, 43, was arrested in January 2020 by Clark County sheriff’s deputies for assault in the fourth degree with sexual motivation, a misdemeanor. His arrest was based on an allegation from a family friend who had been spending the night.
She told deputies that she woke up in the middle of the night when the client was touching her butt. The alleged victim, 22, said the client touched her on the outside of her pajama pants.
Our client denied any inappropriate touching and said he simply put a blanket over the woman.
When he refused to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge in District Court, a deputy prosecutor attorney filed a new charge of indecent liberties in Superior Court.
That dramatically raised the stakes. While a misdemeanor conviction would have meant little to no local jail time and some fines and fees, a felony conviction would carry a minimum prison sentence of 15 months. Plus, the client would have to register as a sex offender and the conviction would count as a strike under the state’s “three strikes” law, which carries a life sentence for anyone convicted of three serious, violent offenses.
But it also raised the stakes for what the deputy prosecutor had to prove. It was no longer enough to prove the client touched the woman in a sexual manner. Under the state’s definition of indecent liberties, the state also had to prove that the alleged victim was “physically incapacitated.”
At trial, Kauffman highlighted for the jury the alleged victim’s inconsistent descriptions of where she was touched. When the alleged victim was on the witness stand and Kauffman asked her about the inconsistencies, the alleged victim repeatedly said she did not remember making the statements in question.
Kauffman also argued that based on the alleged victim’s testimony, she was not “physically incapacitated” at the time she was supposedly touched. She said she woke up and then left.
On June 17, the twelve jurors deliberated about four hours before returning the not-guilty verdict.