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Court of Appeals: Kiss Can Constitute Child Molestation in GA

October 16, 2013

In Thomas v. State, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the defendant’s conviction for child molestation, holding that his admission that he kissed his wife’s granddaughter on the lips was enough evidence to support the conviction.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the evidence showed that the defendant Thomas was married to the victim’s grandmother. Thomas and the child were not physically affectionate with each other. Thomas, however, called the child into the bedroom and asked her to give him a hug. She put her arms around Thomas, and he hugged her tightly and kissed her first on the cheek, then on the mouth. The child ran from the room and began to cry, then she told her mother what had happened.

A police officer who interviewed Thomas testified that he admitted that he kissed the child three times, that he told her that he “went too far” and not to tell her mother or grandmother. Thomas wrote a letter to the court admitting that he had kissed the child on the lips, but denying that he did so with the intent to arouse or satisfy his or the child’s sexual desires.

The Court of Appeals stated that an act “generally viewed as morally and sexually indelicate, improper and offensive can constitute child molestation.” The Court noted that the issue as to whether an act is immoral is a question for the jury. The Court also cited a previous case in which they upheld a conviction for child molestation by the defendant’s placing his mouth on the victim’s mouth “with the intent to satisfy his sexual desire” because the jury could have found that the kiss was an immoral or indecent act. For these reasons, the Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for child molestation and held that the jury could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

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