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State of Iowa v. Alexander Mendoza-Ortega

May 15, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ALEXANDER MENDOZA-ORTEGA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Joel D. Yates, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bower, J.

Alexander Mendoza-Ortega appeals his conviction for the crime of sexual abuse in the third degree in violation of Iowa Code sections 709.1(1) and 709.4(1) (2011). AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Danilson and Bower, JJ.

Alexander Mendoza-Ortega appeals his conviction for the crime of sexual abuse in the third degree, in violation of Iowa Code sections 709.1(1) and 709.4(1) (2011). Mendoza-Ortega argues the district court applied an improper standard in reviewing his motion for new trial, and his counsel was ineffective for failing to object to certain rebuttal testimony. Because we find that the district court applied the proper standard, and that counsel was not ineffective, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

On September 11, 2011, Mendoza-Ortega was charged with sexual abuse in the third degree for having sexually abused a fourteen-yea- old girl. Mendoza-Ortega claimed that the girl, S.S., had consented to the sexual encounter.

In addition to offering a different explanation of events from the testimony of S.S., Mendoza-Ortega argued that S.S.'s action, of leaving the following day for church camp, was inconsistent with an assault. After S.S. arrived at camp, her mother became aware of the assault and traveled to meet with her. Following a counseling session with camp and church staff, S.S., and members of her family, it was decided that S.S. would remain at the camp for the remainder of the week. After returning home S.S. met with law enforcement officials. Mendoza-Ortega argues this is not the course of conduct one would expect following a sexual assault.

Lisa Gugel, the operator of the camp, met with S.S. and her family following the assault. On rebuttal Gugel testified concerning the reasons for the delayed reporting to law enforcement.

Mendoza-Ortega was convicted by a jury and, after his motion for new trial was denied, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed ten years. This appeal follows.

II. Standard of Review

The standard of review on a motion for new trial depends upon the grounds raised in the motion. Clinton Physical Therapy Servs., P.C. v. John Deere Health Care, Inc., 714 N.W.2d 603, 609 (Iowa 2006). Where, as here, the grounds are discretionary, we review for abuse of discretion. Id.

Claims of ineffective assistance are reviewed de novo. State v. Clay, 824 N.W.2d 488, 494 (Iowa 2012).

III. Discussion

A. Motion for New ...


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