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United States v. Johns

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
15 F.3d 740 (1994)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Dale Thomas Johns (defendant) for sexual abuse, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2242(1). Federal courts had jurisdiction because the offenses took place on an Indian tribal reservation. The trial evidence established that Johns, S.D., and S.D.'s daughter C.D. lived together for seven years, when C.D. was between the ages of 14 and 21. Johns purportedly taught traditional Ojibwa spirituality and practiced as a medicine man. Johns made C.D. his private assistant in these activities, thereby giving him ample opportunity to have sexual relations with the girl. C.D. testified that Johns had complete control over what clothes she wore, whom she saw, what she did, and whether she could stay at school or must return home when summoned to serve him sexually. Johns yelled and slapped C.D. if she inadvertently broke his rules, causing C.D. to fear what Johns might do to her. C.D. came to believe in what Johns taught her, which was that the spirits ordained that he should rule her life, and that the spirits would harm her and her loved ones if she failed to obey Johns. The jury convicted Johns. On appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Johns argued that the evidence was insufficient to prove that he compelled C.D. to have sex with him by putting her in fear, and that any fear C.D. might have had was insufficiently serious to satisfy § 2241(1).

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Heaney, J.)

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