Thursday, November 08, 2018

Appellate court upholds conviction of Springfield man who grabbed woman's genitals at Wal-Mart

The Missouri Southern District Court of Appeals Monday upheld the conviction of a Springfield man who grabbed a woman's genitals at Wal-Mart in 2015.

The trial for Christopher Schuler, 52, was conducted without a jury and Schuler contended the judge should have found him not guilty because he received no sexual gratification from grabbing the woman.

Testimony during the 2016 trial revealed that Schuler grabbed the woman and when she called for help Wal-Mart employees told her they wouldn't do anything unless Schuler was shoplifting.

Despite the lack of help from store employees, the woman confronted the man, who called for store security.

Springfield Police took the woman's complaint more seriously.

Schuler's crime was captured on Wal-Mart surveillance cameras and was described in the appellate court's opinion:

On October 9, 2015, Schuler walked behind a stranger (“Victim”) at Walmart and grabbed her genitals.

Victim immediately reported the assault to nearby Walmart employees. They “shrugged their shoulders,” stating “shoplifting” was the only offense warranting their intervention. 

Undeterred, Victim confronted Schuler on her own and demanded an explanation. Schuler falsely “den[ied] that anything occurred[.]” Victim followed Schuler as he made his way to the exit. On the way, he “yell[ed] for security,” loudly claiming that Victim was “harassing him.” 

This drew the attention of Walmart security personnel, who arrived just in time to “see [Schuler] leaving.” Schuler did not stop to speak with them, and they did not hamper his departure. 

The proper authorities were subsequently contacted, and Schuler was identified as Victim’s perpetrator. 

On May 4, 2016, Schuler was charged by information with the class A misdemeanor of sexual abuse in the second degree.A bench trial commenced on June 28, 2017. Schuler did not testify. 

After the close of the evidence, the trial court took the matter under advisement. On July 26, 2017, the trial court found Schuler guilty of the crime charged. 

At the sentencing hearing on August 15, 2017, the trial court sentenced Schuler to 365 days in the Greene County Jail, with credit for 262 days served. This appeal followed. Schuler argues that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction, because even though Schuler grabbed Victim’s genitals, he asserts it was not proven to be for the purpose of arousing or gratifying his sexual desire, pursuant to section 566.010.

The judges rejected Schuler's contention with the opinion noting that court decisions have noted that the act of "touching a woman's vagina" can serve as evidence that he was doing it for sexual gratification.

The opinion also noted that Schuler was not a doctor performing a medical examination.

No comments: