from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Henry W.
Latham II, Judge.
defendant appeals his conviction for second-degree sexual
Sucher of Trey Sucher Law PLC, West Liberty, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary Miller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Tabor, J., and Blane, S.J.
Carlos Augusto Ramirez Lopez (Lopez) appeals from his
conviction following jury trial for sexual abuse in the
second degree, contending the district court abused its
discretion in denying his motion for new trial. On our
review, we find the district court did not abuse its
discretion, and we affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings
March 2007, Lopez became acquainted with his coworker, Maria,
in Postville, Iowa. Maria had two daughters from a prior
relationship: N.N., born in 2001, and C.N., born in 2006.
That same year Maria had separated from her former boyfriend,
the father of N.N. and C.N. Over time, Lopez and Maria
progressed from a coworker friendship to a romantic
relationship. In 2008, Lopez traveled to Guatemala and, while
he was there, Maria informed him she was pregnant with his
child. In December, Maria gave birth to their daughter, A.R.
eventually returned to the United States in 2010 and lived
with Maria and her three children, including N.N. On
September 22, 2011, Maria found a pair of N.N.'s shorts
with white stains on them. Maria asked N.N. about the shorts.
N.N. began crying and told her that while Maria was at work,
Lopez had touched her breasts and vagina and he "rubbed
his front part against her on her back, which hurt her."
Maria then told her pastor what N.N. had told her, and the
pastor called the police. When the police came to the
family's home, N.N. informed them Lopez had "put his
thing in her thing" and showed them a pair of black
shorts that belonged to her, which later DNA testing
confirmed had Lopez's sperm on them. Maria took N.N. to
the doctor and had her examined. The doctor concluded the
test results were normal-there were no lacerations, bruises,
or tears-but this could be consistent with N.N. having been
on N.N.'s report, law enforcement officers obtained a
Miranda waiver and interrogated Lopez through an interpreter.
During the interrogation, Lopez denied committing any sex act
on N.N. After the interrogation, the police released Lopez.
October 5, N.N. was interviewed by a child forensic
psychologist, which was video recorded. N.N. reported that
while she was sleeping in her bed, Lopez came up to her and
touched her private area with his hand and she told him to
stop. Also in the interview, N.N. stated, "[Lopez] took
his thing out" and put "his thing on her
back." He asked her if he should put his
"thing" in her sister (referring to C.N.), and he
showed her sexually suggestive pictures of women on his
phone. According to N.N., Lopez stopped when white liquid
came out of his "thing."
State filed a complaint against Lopez in February 2015. In
September 2017, a trial information was filed charging Lopez
with second-degree sexual abuse. Lopez pleaded not guilty.
N.N. was deposed before trial, during which she denied any
sexual abuse occurred and testified she had made up the
trial, N.N. again testified she made up the allegations
against Lopez. She explained she was mad at her mom for
separating from her dad and hated Lopez for replacing her
dad. She said her seventeen-year-old cousins in Mexico told
her to say Lopez had sexually abused her. She claimed that at
nine years old, she recognized ...