The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge
Michael Morgan ("Morgan" or "Petitioner") has filed a pro se petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, alleging that he is being held in state custody in violation of his constitutional rights. Morgan's state custody arises from a judgment entered on November 15, 2006 in New York State County Court (Monroe County), convicting him, after a jury trial, of one count of Course of Sexual Conduct Against a Child in the First Degree (New York Penal Law ("P.L.") § 130.75(1)(a)) and two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (P.L. § 260.10(1)).
II. Factual Background and Procedural History
The conviction here at issue stems from Petitioner's sexual abuse of two young girls, J.C. and S.B.,*fn1 who were both less than eleven years-old when Petitioner repeatedly raped and sexually abused them while they all shared a bedroom at an apartment in the City of Rochester during 2004 and 2005. Morgan is J.C.'s biological father and S.B.'s stepfather.
In 1997 or 1998, Petitioner became romantically involved with P.C., who had one daughter from a previous relationship, S.B., who was born on December 19, 1996. P.C. gave birth to Petitioner's daughter, J.C., on June 30, 1999. On January 26, 2002, P.C. gave birth to a son from another relationship, G.C., who was not sexually victimized by Petitioner.
In October of 2003, Petitioner, P.C., S.B., J.C., and G.C. moved into a one-bedroom apartment together in Rochester. At some point after they moved in, Petitioner kissed S.B. and inserted his tongue into her mouth.
In May of 2004, the family moved into a two-bedroom, apartment in Rochester, and Petitioner demanded that his girlfriend sleep in one bedroom with her son, while Petitioner slept in the other bedroom with the girls, S.B. and J.C. P.C. agreed to this unconventional idea because Petitioner insisted that neither he nor the girls wanted to sleep with P.C., and P.C. wished to avoid an ongoing argument with Petitioner.
Petitioner used the opportunity provided by the sleeping arrangements to rape, sodomize, and sexually abuse the girls from May of 2004, through late 2005. S.B. and J.C., who were nine- and seven-years-old, respectively, at the time of trial, testified that
Petitioner forced S.B. to climb on top of him and touched her chest and genitals; touched J.C.'s genitals; raped S.B. and J.C. vaginally; raped his J.C. anally; made both girls pose for him in the nude; required the girls to perform oral sex on each other; and forced J.C. to fellate him.
On December 1, 2005, the family moved to a new two-bedroom, apartment in Rochester, where Petitioner continued to share a bedroom with the girls. Over the next several weeks, Petitioner again raped J.C. vaginally and anally, and forced her to fellate him. Around Christmas of 2005, Petitioner touched S.B.'s chest and genitals. At some point after that, S.B. revealed Petitioner's abusive acts to P.C.'s aunt, Shirley Hampton, whom S.B. referred to as "Grandma." S.B. explained that she did not disclose the abuse earlier because she was afraid that she would get into trouble. On January 7, 2006, Hampton informed P.C. about the abuse. P.C. called the police and arranged to have the girls examined.
On January 10, 2006, P.C. brought S.B. and J.C. to see Dr. Ann Lenane, a pediatrician and the medical director of a program for abused children at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. During her examination of J.C., Dr. Lenane detected "anal dilation" or "anal funneling," which occurs when the anus opens up during a manual examination. This can be a sign of anal sexual abuse but may also occur if a child is constipated. There was no evidence that J.C. was constipated at the time of this examination, however.
While examining S.B., Dr. Lenane found that the child had a yeast infection with accompanying tenderness of her hymenal and genital tissues. As a result, Dr. Lenane decided to complete her examination of S.B. at a later date.
On January 13, 2006, Petitioner was arrested and interviewed at the police station by Rochester Police Investigator Catherine Lucci. After she read Petitioner his rights, Investigator Lucci confronted Petitioner with S.B. and J.C.'s claims that he had had sex with them, and showed him the girls' drawings illustrating their claims. Petitioner denied abusing the girls. He told Investigator Lucci that he occasionally woke up to find the girls touching or "humping" him. He maintained that it was impossible for him to have had sex with them because his penis was "too large."
In a statement written out by Investigator Lucci and signed by Petitioner, he admitted that the girls slept in his bed at the two-bedroom apartment in 2004. He denied initiating sexual contact with them and instead blamed the two girls, stating that while he slept, S.B. grabbed and rubbed his chest and penis, and J.C. "humped" him.
On March 21, 2006, Dr. Lenane re-examined the girls and found that J.C.'s anus was still dilated. In addition, she exhibited symptoms of constipation, raising the question of whether J.C. suffered from anal funneling that caused her constipation, or whether she had become constipated as a result of sexual abuse, which combined to cause her anal funneling. S.B.'s yeast infection had cleared by the time of the second visit, which enabled Dr. Lenane to conduct a complete examination of her genital area. In the lower part of S.B.'s hymen, Dr. Lenane detected "notches," which she testified develop after a tear in the hymen has healed, and which are consistent with sexual abuse of a child.
Stefan Perkowski, a licensed social worker and the director of program services at Child and Adolescent Treatment Services in Buffalo, New York, testified as an expert witness on Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome ("CSAAS"). Perkowski explained that CSAAS is intended to enable clinicians to understand how children experience and respond to sexual abuse, but not to determine if abuse actually took place in a given instance. According to Perkowski, CSAAS consists of five categories of behavior, all of which may not be present in each case: helplessness; secrecy; entrapment or accommodation; delayed, conflicted or seemingly unconvincing disclosures; and recantation or retraction. Perkowski testified that a child may often exhibit "conflicted" disclosure of sexual abuse, meaning that the child wishes to speak out but fears the consequences of doing so, and therefore only small amounts of information, in a hesitant manner and without detail. Perkowski's opinion was that children who have suffered sexual abuse commonly delay or withhold disclosure, depending on their subjective experience.
B. The Conviction, Sentence, and Direct Appeal
On September 22, 2006, the jury found Petitioner guilty of one count of Course of Sexual Conduct Against a Child in the First Degree regarding S.B., and two counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child regarding both S.B. and J.C. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the count of Course of Sexual Conduct Against a Child in the First Degree regarding J.C. Petitioner was sentenced on November 15, 2006, to ...