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Bishop v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

July 23, 2019

SIDNEY BISHOP A/K/A SIDNEY E. BISHOP APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/13/2018

          ATTALA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JOSEPH H. LOPER JR. JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: MATTHEW WYATT WALTON.

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: DOUG EVANS.

          BEFORE CARLTON, P.J., LAWRENCE AND C. WILSON, JJ.

          C. WILSON, J.

         ¶1. An Attala County jury convicted Sidney Bishop of four counts of gratification of lust, two counts of sexual battery, and one count of statutory rape. The trial court sentenced Bishop to serve twenty years with five years suspended for Count II (sexual battery) and to fifteen years to be served concurrently to Count II for each of the remaining six charges. Counts I-V pertained to one minor female ("Alice"); Counts VI and VII pertained to another minor female ("Brenda").[1]

         ¶2. After filing an unsuccessful post-trial motion, Bishop timely appeals. He raises the following issues: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient for the statutory rape conviction in Count III or whether the verdict was contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence; (2) whether Bishop was irreparably prejudiced by an improper limitation of his cross-examination of Brenda's mother; (3) whether the trial court erred by excluding evidence that Brenda had been in the presence of another man suspected of abuse; and (4) whether trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request an alibi instruction.

         ¶3. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm.

         FACTS

         ¶4. Two girls, Alice and Brenda, accused Bishop of sexual abuse. We will recount the facts of the case and the course of the proceedings as they pertain to the respective victims and corresponding counts charged.

         I. Alice

         ¶5. Alice was born in 2001. When she was about five years old, she and her mother began attending church, where she met Bishop and his wife, Dorothy. Alice described how Bishop and Dorothy quickly became friends with Alice's mother. At first, Bishop was nice to Alice; thereafter, Bishop would separate her from others at church, take her to the back of the church, and touch her inappropriately.

         ¶6. When Alice was about seven, and after the abuse had already begun, Alice and her mother were evicted from their apartment. The Bishops owned a garage apartment and allowed Alice and her mother to stay there. The sexual abuse continued within the confines of Bishop's household, where Bishop would invite Alice to a back bedroom to play with his cats while his wife, Dorothy, remained in the front of the house in her recliner. The abuse ended when Alice was removed from her mother's custody in February 2016 due to her mother's inability to properly care for her.

         ¶7. The following five counts pertain to Alice and recount, in detail, the abuse she suffered.

         A. Count I: Gratification of Lust

         ¶8. Alice testified that when she was between five and seven years old, Bishop would take her to the back of their church and touch her breasts and buttocks both on top of and inside her clothing. Alice testified that Bishop told her that she was "pretty or sexy and that he loved [her] and that [she] was beautiful." These events occurred between September 20, 2006, and April 1, 2007.

         B. Count II: Sexual Battery

         ¶9. The abuse continued after Alice moved into Bishop's garage apartment with her mother. Alice testified that during visits to Bishop's house, Bishop would take her to his bedroom, ostensibly to show her his cats. Once in the bedroom, Bishop would pull her pants down and lay her on his bed. Bishop would then touch her vagina, both inside and out, using his fingers, hands, and mouth. On some occasions, Bishop would penetrate Alice's vulva. Bishop abused Alice like this "once a week or more."

         C. Count III: Statutory Rape

         ¶10. Alice testified that in April 2007, just a few days before Easter Sunday, Bishop raped her. Alice testified that Bishop put something in her juice which made her feel lightheaded. He then placed her on the bed in the back bedroom and removed her pants. After Alice struggled to the extent that she could, Bishop got on top of her. While Bishop was on top of Alice, she felt pressure and pain in her vaginal area. She passed out, and when she regained consciousness, she was covered in blood and surrounded by bloody sheets. Bishop cleaned Alice up, took the sheets off of the bed and placed them in a bag, and put Alice's pants back on her. Alice continued to find traces of blood in her panties for two months thereafter. According to Alice, Bishop threatened to kill her and her mother if Alice told anyone about the rape.

         D. Count IV: Sexual Battery

         ¶11. The abuse that formed the basis for Count II continued after Bishop had raped Alice. Bishop continued to put his mouth, hands, and fingers in and around Alice's vagina. Alice testified that this abuse continued until she was about ten years old.

         E. Count V: Gratification of Lust

         ¶12. After Alice turned ten years old, Bishop continued to touch Alice inappropriately. Alice testified that whenever Bishop had the chance, he would put Alice in a "death-like grasp" and touch her breasts and butt as he had done before. Bishop would also pull out his penis and ask Alice to touch it and kiss it. When Alice refused, Bishop would force his penis to her ...


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