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Name: People v. Lozano (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 366
Case #: A165646
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/10/2024

Trial court abused its discretion in admitting a 16-year-old victim’s statement to her mother that defendant had been molesting her since she was 11 as a spontaneous statement. Defendant was convicted of, inter alia, committing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14. On appeal, he argued the trial court erred in admitting an out-of-court statement of Doe 1, who was deceased at the time of trial, but who had told her mother defendant had been molesting her since she was 11. Held: Reversed. Doe 1’s statements to her mother did not fall within the hearsay exception for spontaneous statements because she made it after considerable opportunity for deliberation and reflection. Doe 1’s initial words to her mother were, “Mom, he’s been molesting me,” and she further explained he had been doing so since she was 11. Her statement, therefore, described events that took place as much as five years earlier. There is no California authority applying the spontaneous statement hearsay exception to such remote events. Although there was evidence that defendant had sex with Doe 1 one day prior, her disclosure to her mother was not about that event; it was about a continuing pattern of conduct that took place over a period of years. While Doe 1 was crying when she made this statement, evidence that a declarant is under stress or in a state of high emotion while recounting a traumatic event is not enough without the requisite link to a recent startling event. Additionally, Doe 1 told officers that she had decided she no longer wanted to be with defendant two days prior to her statement, and “figured that today I had to tell my mom finally.” The trial court refused to consider these statements for context on her decision to disclose the molestation, incorrectly assuming it could not consider testimonial hearsay, when in fact, the confrontation clause does not limit evidence the defense may introduce. The admission of Doe 1’s statement prejudiced defendant. Absent Doe 1’s statement that the sexual abuse began when she was 11, there was little evidence to support a claim of abuse between the ages of 11 and 14.