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State v. Jones

Supreme Court of South Carolina

July 5, 2018

The State, Respondent,
v.
Roy Lee Jones, Petitioner.

          Heard May 3, 2018

          Appeal from Greenville County Robin B. Stilwell, Circuit Court Judge Appellate Case No. 2016-001933

          Appellate Defender David Alexander and Appellate Defender Lara M. Caudy, both of Columbia, for Petitioner.

          Attorney General Alan McCrory Wilson, Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Deborah R.J. Shupe, both of Columbia, and Solicitor W. Walter Wilkins, III, of Greenville, for Respondent.

         ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

          HEARN JUSTICE

         Petitioner Roy Lee Jones appeals his convictions for first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) with a minor, second-degree CSC with a minor, and two counts of committing a lewd act on a minor. The issues Jones raises on appeal all concern the admission of testimony from an expert witness qualified in child sexual abuse dynamics. The court of appeals affirmed Jones's convictions. State v. Jones, 417 S.C. 319, 790 S.E.2d 17 (Ct. App. 2016). Finding no reversible error, we affirm the court of appeals, but we take the opportunity to clarify the proper inquiry for determining whether a particular subject area falls outside the realm of lay knowledge, thus requiring expert testimony.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Jones was charged with numerous offenses for the ongoing sexual abuse of his then-girlfriend's two daughters. Testifying at trial, the older daughter (Daughter 1) stated the abuse began sometime in 2003 as she was entering the tenth grade. While Jones's behavior was initially limited to sexual comments about her body, Daughter 1 stated it progressed to groping and eventually to sexual intercourse. In total, Daughter 1 estimated Jones sexually abused her over a hundred times until it came to a halt in 2009 when Jones was imprisoned for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

         The younger daughter (Daughter 2) testified Jones began molesting her when she was around ten years old, also beginning as touching and groping before escalating into forced sexual intercourse. Daughter 2 claimed she told Mother about the abuse, but Mother did not take any steps to stop it. When called to testify, Mother admitted Daughter 2 told her about the abuse, but explained she did not immediately notify the authorities after learning of the allegations because she feared they would take her children from her.

         The State then presented expert testimony from Shauna Galloway-Williams, who was qualified as an expert in child sexual abuse dynamics. Jones objected to the admission of Galloway-Williams' testimony, arguing the basis for her opinions was not reliable and that the subject matter of her testimony was not beyond the ordinary knowledge of the jury. After the State proffered Galloway-Williams' testimony, the trial judge concluded the subject matter of her testimony was not common knowledge and determined she established sufficient reliability for her testimony. Thus qualified, Galloway-Williams testified generally about delayed disclosure in sexual abuse cases and the response of nonoffending caregivers. Galloway-Williams did not reference the victims in this case, and after being questioned on cross-examination, stated she had never met with any of the other witnesses, including the victims and Mother.

         Testifying in his own defense, Jones denied ever sexually abusing the victims and claimed the charges were brought against him in retaliation after he caught Daughter 1 stealing money from him. Jones was found guilty of first-degree CSC with a minor, second-degree CSC with a minor, and two counts of lewd act upon a child, and was sentenced to life without parole for first- and second-degree CSC and fifteen years' imprisonment for each count of lewd act. After his convictions were affirmed by the court of appeals, Jones petitioned this Court for certiorari.

         ISSUES

         I. Did the court of appeals err by holding the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it qualified Galloway-Williams as an expert in child sex abuse dynamics when the subject matter of her testimony was well within the realm of lay knowledge, was highly ...


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