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United States v. Jennings

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
496 F.3d 344 (2007)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Ryan Jennings (defendant) for abusive sexual contact with a minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2244(a)(3). Twenty-four-year-old Jennings and Casey, an unaccompanied 13-year-old girl, were seat mates on an overnight cross-country flight. Several hours into the flight a passenger, Linda Columbus, observed Jennings "leaning in close" to Casey. Columbus alerted a flight attendant, who moved Jennings to another seat. Five minutes later Casey sat down next to Karen Schmidt, another passenger. Schmidt testified at trial that Casey, who was visibly shocked, angry, and confused, blurted out that all night Jennings repeatedly groped her buttocks, thighs, and genitalia, and said things that made Casey afraid to call for help. Columbus testified that after landing, as passengers exited the plane, she saw Jennings speak to Casey, which made Casey stop and immediately burst into tears. When asked what was wrong, Casey tearfully told Columbus that Jennings had touched her buttocks and legs. Columbus alerted the flight crew, who detained Jennings until security personnel arrived and arrested him. The jury convicted Jennings. On appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Jennings argued that the judge erred in admitting Schmidt's and Columbus's hearsay testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(2).

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Niemeyer, J.)

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