State of Iowa v. Daniel Logan Walden ( 2015 )

  •                IN THE SUPREME COURT OF IOWA
                                     No. 14–1280
                                Filed October 23, 2015
          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mills County, James M.
    Richardson, Judge.
          Defendant     appeals    from    order   denying   motion   to   dismiss
    kidnapping    charge   as     time-barred.     DISTRICT      COURT     ORDER
          Jesse    A.    Macro     Jr.    of   Gaudineer     &   George,    L.L.P.,
    West Des Moines, for appellant.
          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kyle P. Hanson, Assistant
    Attorney General, Eric Hansen, County Attorney, and Tricia McSorley,
    Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
    WATERMAN, Justice.
          In this appeal, we must decide which statute of limitations governs
    a charge of kidnapping to commit sexual abuse of a minor under Iowa
    Code section 710.2 (2007), a class “A” felony with a mandatory sentence
    of life in prison.   In 2014, a teenage girl reported the defendant had
    locked her in his bedroom and molested her eight years earlier when she
    was six years old. He was arrested the day after her forensic interview
    and charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor, indecent
    contact with a minor, and kidnapping with intent to commit sexual
    abuse.   Defendant moved to dismiss the kidnapping charge as time-
    barred under the general three-year statute of limitations for felonies,
    Iowa Code section 802.3, noting kidnapping is not one of its enumerated
    exceptions.    The State resisted, arguing the applicable statute of
    limitations is section 802.2, an enumerated exception that expires ten
    years after the minor victim of sexual abuse reaches age eighteen. The
    State noted sexual abuse of a minor is a lesser included offense for the
    kidnapping charge and contended it would be absurd to apply a shorter
    deadline to the more serious crime of kidnapping to commit that abuse.
    The district court agreed with the State and denied the motion to
    dismiss. We granted the defendant’s application for discretionary review.
          We must apply the unambiguous operative statutory language as
    written. The legislature, recognizing child sex-abuse victims often delay
    reporting such crimes, listed four exceptions to the three-year limitations
    provision. But the legislature did not include kidnapping among those
    exceptions. Accordingly, under the plain meaning of the statutory text,
    the kidnapping charge is time-barred. We decline the State’s invitation
    to apply the absurd-results doctrine to effectively rewrite the statute.
    The legislature made the policy choice to leave the three-year limitations
    intact for first-degree kidnapping.       For the reasons further explained
    below, we reverse the district court’s order on the motion to dismiss and
    remand the case to proceed under the remaining charges, including the
    lesser included offense of sexual abuse of a minor.
          I. Background Facts and Proceedings.
          In February 2014, concerned parents sent their troubled fourteen-
    year-old daughter, K.R., to an inpatient treatment center to address her
    self-harming behavior, suicidal thoughts, and drug use.           While in
    counseling, K.R. told her therapist that she had been sexually abused as
    a child by a neighbor, Daniel Walden.         During group therapy, K.R.’s
    parents heard K.R. announce she had been molested by a “neighbor.”
    When they asked if it was Walden, she nodded “yes.”            The parents
    contacted the Glenwood police, who recommended that K.R. undergo a
    forensic interview. That interview occurred on May 8.
          K.R. told her interviewer Walden had sexually abused her when
    she was about six years old.    K.R. said she often bicycled around the
    cul-de-sac near her house, and Walden watched her. In 2006 or 2007,
    during a warm part of the year when K.R. was in first grade, Walden
    invited her into his house “to see puppies.” According to the minutes of
    testimony, she told the interviewer that Walden locked her in his
    bedroom, touched her private parts, and made her touch his. He ordered
    her not to tell anyone. She complied and kept this secret for eight years.
          K.R. never told anyone about Walden molesting her until 2014.
    K.R. first told a close friend shortly before she began therapy. She later
    told another friend, then her therapist and parents.         She disclosed
    specific details in her May 8 forensic interview and diagrammed the
    interior of Walden’s home.
          Based on her statements, on May 9, Glenwood police executed a
    search warrant on Walden’s home and arrested him. The interior room
    layout of Walden’s home, the wall color, and furniture placement in his
    bedroom generally fit K.R.’s description. The search of his home found
    pornographic images of young girls, “little girl undergarments,” and
    stuffed animals posed in sexual positions.         Walden was taken into
    custody, given Miranda warnings, and interrogated.
          Walden denied molesting K.R. or touching her inappropriately.
    Walden initially denied ever having children in his home but then said
    K.R. had been inside his house twice. The first time, she was injured
    falling off a teeter-totter and came to his wife, a physician, for assistance.
    Walden claimed his wife examined K.R. in the master bedroom.              The
    second time, he said she came inside the house to sell lemonade. K.R.’s
    parents denied K.R. had ever been inside Walden’s home to sell lemonade
    but recalled Walden’s wife treating K.R.’s scrapes in Walden’s living
    room, not the bedroom.
          On May 20, Walden was charged by trial information with one
    count of kidnapping in the first degree, two counts of sexual abuse in the
    second degree, and one count of indecent contact with a child.          Each
    count was based on Walden’s alleged molestation of K.R. at his home in
    2006 or 2007.
          On June 17, Walden filed a motion to dismiss the kidnapping
    charge as barred by the statute of limitations.           The State filed a
    resistance. The district court held a hearing on July 7 and denied the
    motion the same day. The district court ruled the statute of limitations
    would expire ten years after K.R. turned eighteen because K.R. was a
    minor at the time of the abuse and one of the sexual abuse charges
    would merge with the kidnapping if Walden were convicted of both. On
    August 6, Walden filed an application for discretionary review, which we
    granted to decide the governing statute of limitations.
          II. Standard of Review.
          The sole issue on appeal is a question of law—determining the
    applicable statute of limitations for the charge of first-degree kidnapping
    with intent to subject K.R., a minor, to sexual abuse.          We review
    questions of statutory interpretation for correction of errors of law. State
    v. Romer, 
    832 N.W.2d 169
    , 174 (Iowa 2013).
          III. Analysis.
          Walden allegedly kidnapped K.R. eight years before he was charged
    with the crime.    We must decide whether the district court erred by
    ruling the applicable statute of limitations is Iowa Code section 802.2
    rather than 802.3. This is a question of first impression. Walden argues
    the three-year general limitation period for felonies in section 802.3
    controls because kidnapping is not among its enumerated exceptions.
    The State argues that because Walden is charged with kidnapping with
    intent to subject K.R. to sexual abuse while she was a minor, the district
    court correctly applied an enumerated exception to section 802.3—the
    extended limitations period in section 802.2 that expressly allows the
    State to charge the crime of sexual abuse of a minor up to ten years after
    the victim reaches age eighteen.         We read the interrelated statutes
    together and conclude that the longer limitations period does not apply
    to kidnapping.
          We begin our analysis with general principles before focusing on
    the statutory text at issue.    “A statute of limitations is designed to
    prevent fraudulent and stale actions from arising after a great lapse of
    time while still preserving the right to pursue a claim for a reasonable
    period of time.” State v. Gansz, 
    376 N.W.2d 887
    , 891 (Iowa 1985). The
    United States Supreme Court elaborated that the purpose of a criminal
    statute of limitations
           is to limit exposure to criminal prosecution to a certain fixed
           period of time following the occurrence of those acts the
           legislature has decided to punish by criminal sanctions.
           Such a limitation is designed to protect individuals from
           having to defend themselves against charges when the basic
           facts may have become obscured by the passage of time and
           to minimize the danger of official punishment because of
           acts in the far-distant past.
    Toussie v. United States, 
    397 U.S. 112
    , 114–15, 
    90 S. Ct. 858
    , 860, 
    25 L. Ed. 2d 156
    , 161 (1970); 1 see also James Herbie DiFonzo, In Praise of
    Statutes of Limitations in Sex Offense Cases, 41 Hous. L. Rev. 1205, 1209
    (2004) (“ ‘The primary reasons for restrictions of time revolve around
    universally accepted notions that prompt investigation and prosecution
    insures that conviction or acquittal is a reliable result, and not the
    product of faded memory or unavailable evidence; that ancient wrongs
    ought not to be resurrected except in some cases of concealment of the
    offense or identity of the offender; and that community security and
    economy in allocation of enforcement resources require that most effort
    be concentrated on recent wrongs.’ ” (quoting 1 Working Papers of the
    National Commission on Reform of Federal Criminal Laws 281 (1970))).
           The    Toussie    Court     recognized     “the   principle    that    criminal
    limitations statutes are to be liberally interpreted in favor of repose.” 397
    U.S. at 115, 90 S. Ct. at 860, 25 L. Ed. 2d at 161 (internal quotation
    marks omitted). We apply the same principle. See State v. Francois, 577
           1The  Toussie Court noted statutory deadlines also “have the salutary effect of
    encouraging law enforcement officials promptly to investigate suspected criminal
    activity.” 397 U.S. at 115, 90 S. Ct. at 860, 25 L. Ed. 2d at 161. The Glenwood police
    arrested Walden the day after K.R. provided the forensic interviewer with details of the
    7 N.W.2d 417
    , 418 (Iowa 1998) (“ ‘[C]riminal limitations statutes are to be
    liberally interpreted in favor of repose.’ ” (quoting State v. Harrison, 
    561 N.W.2d 28
    , 29 (Iowa 1997))); see also Anderson v. State, 
    801 N.W.2d 1
    , 3
    (Iowa 2011) (“ ‘[W]e have repeatedly stated that provisions establishing
    the scope of criminal liability are to be strictly construed with doubts
    resolved therein in favor of the accused.’ ” (quoting State v. Hearn, 
    797 N.W.2d 577
    , 583 (Iowa 2011))), superseded by statutory amendment,
    2012 Iowa Acts ch. 1138, § 91 (codified at Iowa Code § 907.3 (2013);
    3 Norman J. Singer & J.D. Shambie Singer, Statutes and Statutory
    Construction § 58:4, at 120 (7th rev. ed. 2008)) [hereinafter Sutherland
    Statutory    Construction]     (“Statutes       which   impinge     on   fundamental
    freedoms are strictly construed.”).
           Against this backdrop, we turn to the language of the Iowa statutes
    of limitations at issue.       See Hearn, 797 N.W.2d at 583 (“The starting
    point of interpreting a statute is analysis of the language chosen by the
    legislature.”). Our legislature chose to enact a general three-year statute
    of limitations applicable to most felonies with several enumerated
    exceptions. 2 This statute in 2007 provided “[i]n all cases, except those
    enumerated in section 802.1, 802.2, 802.2A, or 802.10, an indictment or
    information for a felony or aggravated or serious misdemeanor shall be
    found within three years after its commission.” Iowa Code § 802.3. 3 The
            2The Model Penal Code also contains a general three-year statute of limitations
    for felonies with exceptions for murder, first-degree felonies, misdemeanors, fraud, and
    misconduct by a public officer. Model Penal Code § 1.06, 10A U.L.A. 31–32 (2001). The
    first-degree felony exception increases the statute of limitations to six years after its
    commission. Id. § 1.06(2)(a), 10A U.L.A. at 31.
           3We  apply the 2007 Code because Walden’s alleged crimes occurred between
    2006 and 2007. Another enumerated exception to section 802.3, section 802.2B, was
    enacted in 2014. See 2014 Iowa Acts ch. 1097, § 8. The State does not argue section
    802.2B applies to Walden. See Stogner v. California, 
    539 U.S. 607
    , 609, 
    123 S. Ct. 2446
    , 2448, 
    156 L. Ed. 2d 544
    , 550 (2003) (holding the Ex Post Facto Clause precludes
    word “enumerate” means “to ascertain the number of”; “to relate one
    after another.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 759 (unabr.
    ed. 2002).      Under the plain meaning of section 802.3, first-degree
    kidnapping, a felony, is subject to the general three-year statute of
    limitations unless it falls within one of the enumerated exceptions.
           Significantly, the exceptions enumerated in section 802.3 do not
    include kidnapping.       Walden argues that omission is dispositive.              We
    agree. Legislative “[i]ntent may be expressed by the omission, as well as
    the inclusion, of statutory terms. Put another way, the express mention
    of one thing implies the exclusion of other things not specifically
    mentioned.” State v. Beach, 
    630 N.W.2d 598
    , 600 (Iowa 2001) (citation
    omitted). If the legislature had intended a longer limitations period for
    kidnapping, it would have included that crime among the enumerated
    exceptions to the three-year general provision in section 802.3.                  The
    legislature did not include kidnapping among the exceptions as it did for
    various other crimes, including murder.              See Iowa Code § 802.1 (“A
    prosecution for murder in the first or second degree may be commenced
    any time after the death of the victim.”).
           The State, however, contends one of section 802.3’s enumerated
    exceptions, section 802.2, 4 is ambiguous and should be interpreted to
    encompass kidnapping with intent to subject the victim, a minor, to
    a new statute of limitations from reviving criminal liability for otherwise time-barred
            4The parties agree the other enumerated exceptions in the 2007 statute are
    inapplicable. As noted, section 802.1 applies to murder. Iowa Code § 802.1. Section
    802.2A applies to incest as well as sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or
    school employee. Id. § 802.2A. Walden is unrelated to K.R. and was not a counselor,
    therapist, or school employee. Section 802.10 addresses charges based on the DNA
    profile of the accused. Id. § 802.10. This case does not involve DNA evidence.
    sexual abuse.     We conclude the statute is unambiguous.           Section
    802.2(1) provides in relevant part:
          An information or indictment for sexual abuse in the first,
          second, or third degree committed on or with a person who
          is under the age of eighteen years shall be found within ten
          years after the person upon whom the offense is committed
          attains eighteen years of age . . . .
    Iowa Code § 802.2(1).    The State correctly notes the purpose behind
    section 802.2 is to “accommodate the reality that many children delay
    [the] reporting of sexual abuse.” See, e.g., State v. Dudley, 
    856 N.W.2d 668
    , 675–76 (Iowa 2014) (citing Veronica Serrato, Note, Expert Testimony
    in Child Sexual Abuse Prosecutions: A Spectrum of Uses, 68 B.U. L. Rev.
    155, 160–63 (1988) (discussing use of expert testimony to explain
    delayed reporting by child abuse victims)); Callahan v. State, 
    464 N.W.2d 268
    , 271–72 (Iowa 1990) (discussing delayed reporting resulting from
    posttraumatic stress disorder); Lynne Henderson, Without Narrative:
    Child Sexual Abuse, 4 Va. J. Soc. Pol’y & L. 479, 528 (1997); Roland C.
    Summit, The Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome, 7 Child
    Abuse & Neglect 177, 177–78 (1983).
          The plain meaning of section 802.2(1) thus allows the State to
    prosecute certain crimes of sexual abuse of a minor within ten years of
    the victim attaining the age of eighteen.       It does not follow that the
    extended limitations period in section 802.2(1) applies to kidnapping to
    commit sexual abuse of a minor. We reject the State’s argument that an
    indictment for kidnapping to commit sexual abuse of a minor equates to
    an “indictment for sexual abuse.”         The State correctly observes that
    second-degree sexual abuse is a lesser included offense of kidnapping.
    See State v. Whitfield, 
    315 N.W.2d 753
    , 755 (Iowa 1982). But Walden
    was charged with first-degree kidnapping, which carries a life sentence
    and requires proof of the additional element of confinement or removal
    from one place to another. See State v. Robinson, 
    859 N.W.2d 464
    , 474–
    75 (Iowa 2015).       Compare Iowa Code § 710.1(3), with id. §§ 709.1–.4.
    Those differences preclude us from equating first-degree kidnapping with
    second-degree sexual assault for the purpose of extending the statute of
           The kidnapping statute provides in relevant part:
                  A person commits kidnapping when the person either
           confines a person or removes a person from one place to
           another, knowing that the person who confines or removes
           the other person has neither the authority nor the consent of
           the other to do so; provided, that to constitute kidnapping
           the act must be accompanied by one or more of the
                3. The intent to . . . subject the person to a sexual
    Iowa Code § 710.1(3). First-degree kidnapping occurs “when the person
    kidnapped, as a consequence of the kidnapping . . . is intentionally
    subjected to . . . sexual abuse.” Id. § 710.2. First-degree kidnapping is a
    class “A” felony carrying a mandatory prison sentence of life without
    parole. Id.; id. § 902.1(1). By contrast, second-degree sexual abuse is a
    class “B” felony punishable by an indeterminate prison sentence of up to
    twenty-five years followed by a lifetime special sentence that places the
    offender under the department of correction’s supervision for life. See id.
    § 709.3(3); id. § 902.9; id. § 903B.1. 5
           Our court recently revisited the relationship between sexual abuse
    and kidnapping in Robinson. In that case, the defendant, convicted of
    kidnapping to commit sexual abuse, challenged the sufficiency of the
           5The special sentence begins at the termination of the prison sentence, and the
    offender begins the sentence “under supervision as if on parole.” Iowa Code § 903B.1.
    evidence for the element of confinement or removal.         Robinson, 859
    N.W.2d at 466–67. Robinson dragged the victim from the hallway into
    the bedroom, locked the bedroom and apartment doors, covered the
    victim’s mouth, and took the victim’s cell phone.         Id. at 466.    In
    addressing the legislative intent behind the kidnapping statute, we
    reiterated “oft quoted” language requiring evidence of confinement or
    removal beyond that incidental to a sexual assault:
          “[O]ur legislature, in enacting section 710.1, intended the
          terms ‘confines’ and ‘removes’ to require more than the
          confinement or removal that is an inherent incident of
          commission of the crime of sexual abuse. Although no
          minimum period of confinement or distance of removal is
          required for conviction of kidnapping, the confinement or
          removal must definitely exceed that normally incidental to
          the commission of sexual abuse. . . . Such confinement or
          removal may exist because it substantially increases the risk
          of harm to the victim, significantly lessens the risk of
          detection, or significantly facilitates escape following the
          consummation of the offense.”
    Id. at 475 (quoting State v. Rich, 
    305 N.W.2d 739
    , 745 (Iowa 1981)). We
    reaffirmed that the State must show more than incidental confinement or
    removal to prove kidnapping:
          We recognize[] every assault, rape, and robbery involves
          some act of intentional confinement or movement. We
          reason[] notwithstanding the unqualified language in Iowa
          Code section 710.1(3), the legislature did not intend to give
          the prosecution a choice of two penalties of such a disparate
          nature for sexual abuse. We note[] under Iowa law a
          conviction of first-degree kidnapping [is] punishable by life in
          prison, while third-degree sexual abuse [is] punishable by no
          more than ten years in prison. . . . We . . . conclude[] the
          legislature intended that the kidnapping statute be
          applicable only in situations in which the “confinement or
          removal definitely exceeds that which is merely incidental to
          the commission of sexual abuse.”
    Id. (citations omitted) (quoting Rich, 305 N.W.2d at 745). Applying Rich,
    we found insufficient evidence to uphold Robinson’s conviction for
    kidnapping. Id. at 481–82. Although Robinson had committed sexual
    abuse, we found the State had failed to prove the removal or confinement
    required for kidnapping.   Id. at 478–82.   “We note[d] in particular the
    potential of sliding downhill into situations in which a person with
    limited additional criminal culpability suffers a dramatically increased
    penalty.” Id. at 482.
          As Robinson illustrates, proof of sexual abuse alone is insufficient
    to support a conviction for kidnapping. Accordingly, an indictment for
    sexual abuse of a minor cannot be equated for limitations purposes to an
    indictment for kidnapping to commit that abuse.
          The State next argues Walden’s literal interpretation of section
    802.2 leads to an “absurd” result that a shorter statute of limitations
    governs the more serious offense of kidnapping than its lesser included
    offense of sexual abuse. The State argues we should apply the absurd-
    results doctrine to construe section 802.2 as encompassing kidnapping.
    In Sherwin-Williams Co. v. Iowa Department of Revenue, we explained
    that “ ‘even in the absence of statutory ambiguity, departure from literal
    construction is justified when such construction . . . would produce an
    absurd and unjust result and the literal construction is clearly
    inconsistent with the purposes and policies of the act.’ ”    
    789 N.W.2d 417
    , 427 (Iowa 2010) (quoting Pac. Ins. Co. v. Or. Auto. Ins. Co., 
    490 P.2d 899
    , 901 (Haw. 1971)). However, we cautioned that “ ‘the absurd results
    doctrine should be used sparingly because it entails the risk that the
    judiciary will displace legislative policy on the basis of speculation that
    the legislature could not have meant what it unmistakably said.’ ” Id.
    (quoting 2A Sutherland Statutory Construction § 45:12, at 105–07 (7th ed.
    2007)).   Consistent with that admonition, we declined to invoke the
    absurd-results doctrine in Sherwin-Williams when the plain language of
    the statute allowed a retailer who mixed paints on-site to claim a
    manufacturer’s tax credit. Id. at 427–28. In Anderson, we declined to
    apply the absurd-results doctrine when the plain language of the statute
    led to the “counterintuitive” outcome that an offender received day-for-
    day credit against his prison sentence for the time he spent living at
    home under electronic monitoring. 801 N.W.2d at 7–8.
             In this case, we again decline to apply the absurd-results doctrine.
    We refuse to speculate the legislature intended something other than the
    literal meaning of the language it chose for sections 802.2 and 802.3.
    We cannot say the outcome here is absurd.                     To the contrary, the
    legislature, quite reasonably, could have intended that Iowans facing life
    prison terms for kidnapping should be subject to the same three-year
    statute of limitations as most other accused felons. 6 See Robinson, 859
    N.W.2d at 475 (“[W]e doubt[] the legislature intended the possibility of life
    in prison to apply to the ‘usual’ case of sexual abuse, in which some
    movement or confinement occurs. . . . [S]uch a literal interpretation of
    the statute ‘would not be sensible or just.’ ” (quoting Rich, 305 N.W.2d at
             IV. Disposition.
             For these reasons, we reverse the district court’s order that denied
    Walden’s motion to dismiss and remand the case for an order dismissing
    the charge of first-degree kidnapping as time-barred.                The prosecution
    may proceed on the remaining counts of sexual abuse in the second
             6TheState does not argue a discovery rule applies to this case. The legislature
    codified a discovery rule for fraud cases in Iowa Code section 802.5. In State v. Wilson,
    we declined to extend that discovery rule to a charge of theft by taking because the
    element of fraud was missing. 
    573 N.W.2d 248
    , 251–52 (Iowa 1998).
    degree and indecent contact with a child, including the lesser included
    offense in count I.