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State v. Tabora

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

January 7, 2019

State
v.
George Tabora.

          Kent County Superior Court K2/14-710A Brian P. Stern Associate Justice.

          For State: Christopher R. Bush Department of Attorney General

          For Defendant: Camille A. McKenna Office of the Public Defender SU-CMS-

          Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

          OPINION

          Maureen McKenna Goldberg Associate Justice.

         This case came before the Supreme Court on December 5, 2018, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. The defendant, George Tabora (defendant or Tabora), appeals from a judgment of conviction after a jury found him guilty of two counts of second-degree child molestation sexual assault[1] committed against his son, whom we refer to as John.[2]

         On appeal, defendant argues that the trial justice erred in denying his motion for a new trial and that the verdict failed to serve the interests of justice. After hearing the arguments of counsel and examining the memoranda filed by the parties, we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown, and we proceed to decide the appeal at this time. For the reasons set forth herein, we affirm the judgment of conviction.

         Facts and Travel

         The disturbing facts of this case concern acts of molestation committed against John, who was born on August 8, 2005. His parents, defendant and Rabiaa Madouch (Rabiaa), were separated in 2006 and their divorce was finalized in 2009. John resided primarily with his mother and had regularly scheduled visitation with his father.

         In June 2014, after John completed the third grade, he and his mother traveled to Morocco to visit her family for the summer. While spending time with his relatives, John observed how his cousins interacted with other family members and later testified at trial that "[t]hey were all happy, and if something [was] bothering them, they [would] tell their mother or their grandpa or their uncle or whoever."

         Rabiaa and John returned to Rhode Island in August 2014; and, soon thereafter, John began the fourth grade. According to Rabiaa, his first homework assignment was to compose ten good things about himself, but John instead wrote about his father. Notably, this essay assignment was the impetus for the charges and ultimate conviction in this case.

         John, who was nine years old at the time, used the assignment as an opportunity to disclose some of the troubling incidents involving his father that he had been harboring. He wrote as follows, on lined paper marked with his name and dated "8-28-2014":

"What I think about my dad
He talks about women boobs and daddy gets naked in front of me. My dad watches movies on sex and he does not change the chanal [sic] ...

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