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State v. King

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 6, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
CHRISTOPHER L. KING, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, John M. Wright (motion) and John G. Linn (trial), Judges.

         A defendant appeals his convictions for two counts of sexual abuse, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, and penetration of genitalia with an object.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Theresa R. Wilson, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sharon K. Hall, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, JUDGE.

         Christopher King appeals his convictions for two counts of sex abuse in the third degree, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, and penetration of genitalia with an object in violation of Iowa Code sections 709.4, 709.11, and 708.2(5) (2015), respectively. He challenges the district court's denial of his motion to adjudicate law points, the effectiveness of his trial counsel, and the sufficiency of the evidence for two of his charges.


         The case was tried to a jury, which found King guilty of the above-stated offenses but found him not guilty of two other counts, dissemination of obscene material and indecent exposure. The offense conduct at issue took place between June 2013 and February 2015. Each of the offenses involved a different victim. The four victims, K.R., R.F., A.O., and A.B., were teenage girls seeking senior portraits from Daisy Frames, a business owned by King and his wife, Amber King. At the time of the offenses, King was thirty-nine or forty years old.


         K.R. was a seventeen-year-old high school student when she arranged for Daisy Frames to take her senior pictures in September 2014. After her pictures were taken, King offered K.R. a job in which he would take ten dollars off the price of the pictures for each hour K.R. worked. K.R. wanted to reduce the cost of the pictures to ease the financial strain on her family so she accepted the offer. King and K.R. communicated with each other via Facebook messaging. At some point, King's messages became more personal and sexual in nature.

         On December 24, 2014, King picked K.R. up for work. Instead of going to work, King drove K.R. outside of town. He provided K.R. with a drink containing alcohol. K.R. testified she went with him because she really wanted to help her grandmother with the cost of her pictures. K.R. was wearing multiple layers of clothing since King had told her he wanted to play "strip Truth or Dare". K.R. drank at King's urging until King decided they should play Truth or Dare. King dared K.R. to let him put his hand on her thigh for the rest of the drive. She testified she complied because she feared King would have forced her to remove clothing if she did not. King then moved his hand towards her crotch. K.R. testified she tried to push his hand away, said "no, " and closed her legs tightly. King told her "just let it happen, it's okay, you won't get hurt." King then rubbed his hand over her clothing covering her vaginal area as she told him it made her uncomfortable. K.R. testified she loosened her legs, as she feared King would hurt her if she did not. King told her, "[y]ou can't tell me this doesn't feel good, it has to feel good, " to which K.R. responded, "I don't feel anything." K.R. told King she needed to use the bathroom, and the two stopped at a gas station before he took her home. K.R. testified she felt lightheaded from the alcohol and slept after returning home.

         The total encounter lasted between one-and-one-half and two hours on the morning of December 24. K.R. declined future offers of work from King. However, she did state at trial that she saw King on New Year's 2014, where she voluntarily participated in drinking games with King and a friend. Other trial testimony by K.R. included statements that she felt what happened between her and King was "blown out [of] proportion" and that she was "still capable of making her own decisions" when King's conduct took place. She testified she did not disclose this event until her younger sister considered working for King a few months later.

         King denied providing any alcohol to K.R. King also denied any sexual contact with K.R. Amber, King's wife, testified that King had only been gone a short time and he did not appear drunk when he returned.


         A.B. was an eighteen-year-old high school student when she and best friend K.R. chose Daisy Frames for their senior pictures in fall 2014. A.B. too accepted a job with Daisy Frames to pay off her photos. King sent A.B. Facebook messages asking about sex and other personal topics. When A.B. first came to work, King drove her around and provided alcohol, and they discussed personal topics. A second time, they played "Never Have I Ever." A.B. testified she was uncomfortable but wanted to help her mom by earning discounts for her senior pictures.

         During another trip with King, possibly the third, King provided A.B. with more alcohol. He stopped at an adult shop and bought A.B. a dildo, vibrator, and batteries. A.B. testified she refused to take the dildo and King "threw it out the window along a back road." A.B. also tried to refuse the vibrator but King persisted until she took it. A.B. testified King parked the car and pulled out his penis, asking for a "blow job" or sex. She refused, and King was upset.

         A final "work" trip occurred in the winter of 2014. A.B. stated she went along and brought the vibrator, at King's request, because she was afraid King might do something else that was worse. She testified she was too embarrassed to tell her mom despite being scared. King parked behind an abandoned house, took the vibrator, and pestered A.B. to take off her pants. At trial, A.B. could not remember if King pulled down her pants or if she pulled down her pants. She testified, however, her pants were pulled down. She testified King turned on the vibrator and inserted it into her vagina for fifteen minutes. A.B. said she remembered the time because she stared at the digital clock in ...

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