County Superior Court (K1/14-160A) Associate Justice Brian P.
State: Christopher R. Bush Department of Attorney General
Defendant: Brett V. Beaubien, Esq.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and
Maureen McKenna Goldberg Associate Justice.
case came before the Supreme Court for oral argument on
October 3, 2019, on appeal by the defendant, Stephen
Mulcahey, from a judgment of conviction, following a jury
trial, for first-degree sexual assault in violation of G.L.
1956 § 11-37-2. Before this Court, the defendant argues
that the Superior Court erred in admitting evidence of text
messages allegedly sent by the defendant to the complainant
because, he argues, the text messages were not properly
authenticated under Rule 901 of the Rhode Island Rules of
Evidence. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we
affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.
October 2013, Victoria,  the complainant, a seventeen-year-old
high school senior, was residing with her maternal aunt,
Cristee McCormick (McCormick), in an apartment in Coventry,
Rhode Island. The defendant, who was McCormick's
boyfriend, also lived at the apartment for an unspecified
period after McCormick obtained custody of Victoria. At
trial, the complainant described defendant as kind of
"like a father figure," who would help her with her
schoolwork and provide transportation when needed. However,
Victoria testified, defendant sometimes made her feel
uncomfortable: "Well, if he would give me a ride
somewhere and when I would be like waiting in the car or
something and we would go to a restaurant or something, he
would like sit next to me and put his hand on my leg or
October 27, 2013, after spending the evening at a movie
theater with her grandfather, Victoria returned to
McCormick's apartment to eat Chinese food and watch a
scary movie with McCormick, defendant, and defendant's
brother. Victoria sat on the couch and covered herself with a
comforter blanket. The defendant sat between Victoria and
McCormick, and defendant's brother was seated on a chair.
to Victoria, just before the movie was about to begin,
defendant pulled the blanket over her head. Victoria tried to
move the comforter out of the way, "but then things
happened." The defendant started to rub Victoria's
back, which made her feel "uncomfortable and a little
bit nervous[.]" Victoria testified that she
"thought that [defendant] thought that [she] was
[McCormick] so [she] tried to move around so that he would
know that it was [her]." Then defendant "started to
rub [her] butt[, ]" and, again, she tried to move around
more to indicate to defendant that she was not McCormick. The
defendant, however, proceeded to rub Victoria's belly
under her clothes, and he touched her vagina.
point, when McCormick walked to the bathroom and then to the
kitchen to smoke a cigarette, defendant whispered in
Victoria's ear that he wanted to "kiss [her] down
there[, ]" and "taste [her] down there and lick
[her]." The defendant then put his hand inside her
vagina. When she tried to pull defendant's hand out by
grabbing his arm, he "put it in harder[, ]" which
"really hurt and it made [Victoria] very afraid."
Victoria estimated that the assault lasted for about thirty
minutes. When the movie ended, Victoria went next door to her
grandmother's apartment to shower, and she noticed that
she was bleeding from her vagina.
hours of the assault, at 12:30 a.m., Victoria received the
following four text messages from defendant:
"Hope I didn't do anything to upset you good night
"Did I upset you"
"Good night sleep well you are a beautiful person"
"Can't stop thinking about you"
At 7:37 a.m., Victoria received the following text message
from defendant: "Good morning hope you have a great
day[.]" And, at 11:19 a.m., Victoria received the
following text message from defendant: "Are you still
sleeping[?]" After the last text message, Victoria took
a screenshot of her phone depicting the six text ...