Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Mandoka

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

August 24, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
George Howard Mandoka, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: August 3, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan at Bay City. No. 1:15-cr-20418-1-Thomas L. Ludington, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Stevens J. Jacobs, JACOBS LAW OFFICE, Bay City, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Roy Kranz, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Bay City, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Stevens J. Jacobs, JACOBS LAW OFFICE, Bay City, Michigan, for Appellant.

          Roy Kranz, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Bay City, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: SILER, CLAY, and WHITE, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          CLAY, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Defendant George Howard Mandoka ("Defendant") appeals from the judgment entered by the district court on September 27, 2016, sentencing him to concurrent terms of: (i) life in prison for three counts of aggravated sexual abuse, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2241(c), one count of sexual abuse, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2242(2), and one count of abusive sexual contact, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2244(a)(2), (5); (ii) fifteen years in prison for two counts of sexual abuse of a minor, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2243(a); and (iii) three years in prison for one count of abusive sexual contact, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2244(a)(2), (5). In brief, Defendant was convicted of repeatedly sexually abusing his step-daughter and his niece over a period of years. He argues that the district court erred in admitting evidence during his trial: (i) of his past sexual assaults pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 413 and 403; and (ii) that his victims witnessed him physically assault his wife pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 404(b) and 403. He asks us to vacate his convictions and sentence and remand for a new trial. The district court had original jurisdiction over these offenses because they occurred on tribal land, and we have jurisdiction over this appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

         For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM Defendant's convictions.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Factual History

         Defendant is a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation. Prior to his arrest and incarceration, he resided on the Isabella Reservation in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with his (now former) wife, Darcy Mandoka ("Darcy"), and his step-daughter (Darcy's daughter) B.J. This case concerns Defendant's sexual abuse of B.J. and his nieces, J.G. and E.B., when the three were young children.[1]

         A. Abuse of J.G. and E.B.

         J.G. is the daughter of Defendant's sister. At trial, J.G. testified that in the summer of 1988, when she was nine years old, she awoke to find Mr. Mandoka touching her vagina under her clothing. Mr. Mandoka ceased this touching after J.G. began crying, but later renewed this abuse on two separate occasions. Mr. Mandoka's behavior towards J.G. apparently did not escalate beyond genital fondling.

         E.B. is J.G.'s sister. E.B. testified that Defendant abused her from June 1995 through September 1999, when E.B. was between ten and fourteen years old. During this period, E.B. and J.G. would regularly spend the night at Defendant's home. On these occasions, Defendant would sometimes wake E.B. up and force her to watch pornographic movies with him while he masturbated. After roughly a year of this behavior, Defendant progressed to waking E.B. up, rubbing her breasts under her clothing, and penetrating her vagina with his fingers. This occurred on more than ten occasions. E.B. did not report the abuse because she observed Defendant physically abusing Darcy on several occasions, and was afraid that Defendant would hurt her (E.B.) if she notified the police.

         B. Abuse of B.J.

         According to the testimony introduced at trial, Defendant repeatedly sexually abused B.J. while she was living with him and Darcy at the family's home on the Isabella Reservation. The abuse commenced when B.J. was ten years old, and ceased when she was sixteen. During this period, Defendant regularly sneaked into B.J.'s room at night while she was sleeping and touched her breasts and genitals under her clothing. He often penetrated her vagina with his finger, and sometimes forced her to masturbate him with her hand.

         While B.J. was a child, she did not report Defendant's abuse to either her mother or the authorities.[2] Later, when she turned eighteen, she wrote a letter to her mother detailing the abuse. Darcy confronted Defendant with the letter, and he confessed to abusing B.J. Despite this confession, neither B.J. nor Darcy reported the abuse to the police, because they did not want to leave Darcy's youngest children (B.J.'s step-siblings) fatherless. B.J. subsequently disclosed the abuse to other family members, which led to a family meeting at which Defendant admitted to having sexually abused B.J. Nevertheless, the abuse remained a family secret until 2015, when Defendant and Darcy divorced. At that time, Darcy began taking her two youngest daughters with her to group therapy for reasons related to the divorce. During these therapy sessions, Defendant's abuse of B.J. was disclosed to the counselor. The two girls subsequently met individually with a second counselor, to whom at least one of the girls apparently also disclosed Defendant's abuse of B.J. The second counselor reported the abuse to tribal authorities, who contacted the police.

         II. Procedural History

         On July 8, 2015, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Michigan indicted Defendant for five sex offenses related to his abuse of B.J. On July 22, 2015, the grand jury returned a first superseding indictment adding a charge against Defendant for abusing J.G. The grand jury subsequently returned a second superseding indictment on March 10, 2016, adding charges related to Defendant's abuse of E.B. Defendant elected to proceed to trial.

         On June 9, 2016, the government filed a notice that it intended to offer testimony that Defendant had physically abused Darcy in front of his victims as prior bad acts evidence pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), on the ground that it would explain why Defendant's victims did not report the abuse. The next day, Defendant filed a motion in limine to exclude the spousal abuse evidence as improper character evidence, arguing that the government did not seek to offer the evidence for a proper purpose, and that it would unfairly inflame the jury against Defendant. Subsequently, in preparing for trial, the government realized that Defendant's abuse of J.G. did not occur on territory administered by the federal government. Thus, on June 16, 2016, the government filed a motion to dismiss Count 6 of the second superseding indictment (which charged conduct related to J.G.'s abuse) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In its motion, the government also announced its intent to present evidence that Defendant abused J.G. as prior sexual assault evidence pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 413. Defendant responded with a second motion in limine, arguing, inter alia, that he had received inadequate notice of the government's intent to offer the evidence, in violation of Rule 413(b).

         Defendant's trial began on June 21, 2016. Prior to the opening statements, the district court heard brief arguments as to the two pending motions. The district court ruled that most of the spousal abuse evidence was admissible under Rule 404(b), and that Defendant's molestation of J.G. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.