Submitted on Briefs: February 1, 2017
FROM: District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District,
In and For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DC-14-28
Honorable Jeffrey H. Langton, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Colin M. Stephens, Nick K. Brooke, Smith &
Stephens, P.C., Missoula, Montana.
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, C. Mark
Fowler, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana William
E. Fulbright, Ravalli County Attorney, Hamilton, Montana.
Brad Edward Daffin (Daffin) appeals the judgment entered by
the Twenty-First Judicial District Court, Ravalli County,
convicting him of eight counts of Sexual Intercourse Without
Consent, three counts of felony Sexual Assault, three counts
of Sexual Abuse of Children, and two counts of Criminal
Distribution of Dangerous Drugs, and sentencing him to a
cumulative total of five consecutive life
sentences. We affirm and restate the issues as
1. Did the District Court abuse its discretion by
admitting evidence of prior acts under M. R. Evid.
2. Did the District Court err in applying §
45-5-511(2), MCA, Montana's Rape Shield Law?
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On January 9, 2014, R.S. disclosed to her school counselor
that she had been sexually assaulted by Daffin, at the end of
the previous summer, while she was 12-13 years old. Later
that day, at Emma's House, a Children's Advocacy
Center in Hamilton, R.S. participated in a forensic interview
with Valerie Widmer (Widmer), a licensed clinical social
worker with specialized training in forensic interviews. R.S.
stated that she had met Daffin through her friend B.M., whose
father worked for Daffin. During the interview, R.S. revealed
that Daffin had forced or coerced her to have sex multiple
times, and induced her to send him a topless photo of
herself. R.S.'s allegations resulted in Daffin being
charged with two counts of Sexual Intercourse Without
Consent, two counts of Sexual Assault, and one count of
Sexual Abuse of Children.
Widmer conducted a forensic interview of B.M. the following
day at Emma's House. B.M. reluctantly revealed that she
also had been coerced to have sex and was sexually assaulted
multiple times by Daffin during the previous summer, while
she was 13 years old. B.M.'s allegations resulted in
Daffin being charged with three counts of Sexual Intercourse
As the investigation continued, additional victims, former
victims, and witnesses were identified. The victims and
witnesses provided evidence covering a 20-year period of
sexually predatory behavior by Daffin, as well as his use and
distribution of dangerous drugs. The victims and witnesses
provided details of how Daffin selected and groomed young
female victims, eventually leading to him sexually assaulting
them. From these reports Daffin was charged with additional
counts of Sexual Intercourse Without Consent, Sexual Assault,
and Sexual Abuse of Children, along with other crimes.
A.K. was one of the additional victims located during the
investigation. A.K. was 18 years old at the time of her
forensic interview. She revealed that, during the time she
was 13-16 years old, she had been sexually assaulted by
Daffin on multiple occasions; engaged in sex with Daffin in
exchange for drugs; recruited other young girls to have
sexual relations with Daffin; and helped to transport young
girls and drugs, from Idaho to Montana, for Daffin.
A.K.'s allegations resulted in Daffin being charged with
two counts of Sexual Intercourse Without Consent, one count
of Criminal Distribution of Dangerous Drugs, and one count of
Sexual Abuse of Children.
A.K.'s older sister, K.C., testified that she had known
Daffin her entire life because he and her father were
friends. K.C. testified to "partying" with her
father and Daffin as a young child. When she was 12 years
old, K.C.'s father was sent to prison and Daffin began to
"flirt" with her. From the time she was 12 years
old until she was approximately 18 years old, she was
sexually assaulted by Daffin; had sex with Daffin in exchange
for drugs and money; recruited other young girls to have sex
with Daffin in exchange for drugs and money; and transported
drugs and young girls for Daffin. K.C.'s allegations
resulted in Daffin being charged with one count of Sexual
Intercourse Without Consent, one count of Sexual Assault, one
count of Criminal Distribution of Dangerous Drugs, and one
count of Sexual Abuse of Children.
K.D., a former victim, also came forward. K.D. testified that
Daffin sexually assaulted her when she was 15 years old,
shortly after she had completed a youth drug treatment
program. K.D.'s allegation resulted in Daffin being
charged with one count of Sexual Intercourse Without Consent.
At trial, these five girls and women testified in detail
concerning Daffin's process of selecting, grooming,
sexually assaulting, and, finally, coercing them to secrecy.
Additionally, the State called 29 other witnesses. These
witnesses testified to aspects of the investigation and about
their knowledge of Daffin's patterns of victim grooming
After R.S. made her initial disclosure concerning Daffin, a
third-party reported to the school counselor that R.S. had
been sexually assaulted in a park by a group of teen boys.
When the school counselor questioned R.S. about this, R.S.
denied making any such allegation, and said "no one had
done anything" to her. Later, R.S. wrote letters of
apology to the boys who had been named in the incident. While
not explicitly acknowledging she had made false sexual
allegations, she offered that the matter was intended as a
joke. Around the same time, R.S. recanted her allegations
against Daffin. Based on this information, Daffin requested a
hearing pursuant to State ex rel. Mazurek v.
Dist. Court of the Montana Fourth Judicial Dist.,
277 Mont. 349, 922 P.2d 474 (1996), to present evidence of
the false allegations made by R.S. and her recantation. After
hearing the testimony, the District Court applied §
45-5-511(2), MCA, by ruling that evidence about the alleged
sexual assault in the park by the boys was inadmissible, but
that the evidence concerning R.S.'s recantation was
admissible because it related directly to R.S.'s
allegations against Daffin.
Daffin also moved in limine to exclude "other acts"
evidence under M. R. Evid. 404(b). The District Court
reserved ruling until trial, citing "the highly
inflammatory nature of the evidence of sexual conduct."
Later, it denied the motion in limine, reasoning:
The State has adequately explained how it intends to use the
evidence to show motive, intent and mental state, knowledge,
and identity, which are all permissible purposes for
admitting other acts evidence. Daffin's arguments that
such evidence should be precluded because it is remote, is
beyond the statute of limitations, and/or does not constitute
a criminal offense are without ...