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State v. Rundle

Supreme Court of Wisconsin
500 N.W.2d 916 (1993)


K.R., the three-and-a half-year-old daughter of Pamela Rundle and Kurt Rundle (defendant), was admitted to the hospital in a comatose state and covered in bruises. K.R. was blind and had possible brain damage as a result of physical abuse at the hands of Pamela. The injuries stemmed from various incidents in which Pamela threw, slapped, and kicked K.R. Pamela was charged with and convicted of numerous counts of child abuse, while Kurt was charged with intentionally causing a child bodily harm and recklessly causing a child great bodily harm. Kurt’s charges were based on a theory of aiding and abetting child abuse in violation of § 948.03(2)(b) and § 948.03(3)(a) of Wisconsin law. These sections required a guilty defendant to: (1) engage in conduct that aids another person in committing a crime and (2) have a conscious desire or intent to supply such aid. At trial, the evidence established that Kurt was present during the abuse, but various witnesses testified that Kurt never physically abused K.R. himself and had a loving relationship with K.R. However, the witnesses also testified that Kurt did not act to prevent Pamela from abusing K.R. Kurt was convicted of aiding and abetting Pamela’s child abuse. The court of appeals reversed Kurt’s convictions, citing insufficient evidence that Kurt had aided and abetted the abuse. The court of appeals acknowledged that Kurt could have been properly convicted under § 948.03(4), which criminalizes a failure to prevent child abuse, but Kurt was not being prosecuted under that section. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin granted the state’s petition for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Abrahamson, J.)

Dissent (Steinmetz, J.)

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