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United States v. Goeas

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

November 8, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
James Dean Kalani Goeas, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING, IN PART, AND DENYING, IN PART, DEFENDANT'S MOTION IN LIMINE NO. 1 (PRIOR ACTS EVIDENCE) (ECF NO. 23)

          Helen Gillmor District Judge.

         On April 4, 2019, Defendant James Dean Kalani Goeas was indicted under 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b). He is charged with one count of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.

         Defendant was arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty.

         Pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 404(b), the Government notified Defendant that it intends to introduce evidence of five prior acts at trial. Defendant's voluntary post-Miranda statement after his arrest in the current case is the source of the Government's information.

         The Government intends to introduce Acts One, Two, and Five at trial as 404(b) prior acts evidence. The Government seeks to introduce evidence of these prior acts to show Defendant's motivation, intent, plan, knowledge, and lack of mistake in committing the charged conduct.

         The Government indicates that it will not introduce Acts Three and Four as evidence pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 404(b), but seeks to reserve its right to cross-examine Defendant with this evidence in the event he testifies at trial.

         Defendant challenges all five acts as being insufficiently proved. Defendant further challenges the acts as not being material to the charged conduct, not being temporally proximate to the charged conduct, and not being similar enough to the charged conduct to be admissible.

         Defendant's motion is DENIED as to Act Two, and GRANTED as to Acts One, Three, Four, and Five.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On March 25, 2019, the Government filed a one-count criminal complaint against Defendant Goeas. (ECF No. 3).

         On April 4, 2019, a Grand Jury returned a one-count sealed Indictment against Defendant. (ECF No. 13).

         On April 8, 2019, Defendant was arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty. (ECF No. 16).

         On July 10, 2019, the Court ordered the Government to file a notice in writing of its intent to use other acts evidence pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 404(b). (ECF No. 22).

         On July 22, 2019, the Government sent Defendant a letter noticing its intent to use other acts evidence pursuant to Federal Rules of Evidence 404(b). (ECF No. 23-1).

         On August 30, 2019, Defendant filed MOTION IN LIMINE NO. 1

         (PRIOR ACTS EVIDENCE) to exclude the Government's proposed 404(b) evidence. (ECF No. 23).

         On September 6, 2019, the Government filed their Response. (ECF No. 26).

         On October 16, 2019, the Court held a hearing on Defendant's Motion in Limine. (ECF No. 28).

         BACKGROUND

         On March 22, 2019 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and the Hawaii State Attorney General's Office began an online sting operation. The goal of the sting was to apprehend sexual predators by having an undercover law enforcement officer pose as a minor male on Grindr, a prominent gay dating site.

         On the same day the sting was initiated, Defendant Goeas began a chat with the fake Grindr account created by the undercover agent. (Grindr Chat, attached as Ex. 1 to Opposition, ECF No. 26-1). The agent responded by telling Defendant that his name was “Rooster” and that he was “really really young...13.” (Grindr Chat, attached as Ex. 1 to Opposition, ECF No. 26-1). The undercover agent reiterated later in the conversation that he was “only 13.” Id. Defendant responded to this information by stating “Just to let you know I am a big time hugger and kisser.” Id. Defendant was 53 at the time.

         The pair exchanged phone numbers and eventually moved their conversation from Grindr to text message. Rooster again stated that “im 13.” (Text Exchange, attached as Ex. 3 to Opposition, ECF No. 26-3). Despite Rooster restating that he was underage, Defendant asked Rooster to send a photo. Id.

         The following day Defendant texted Rooster again. The conversation quickly became more sexually explicit. Defendant asked Rooster about his sexual history and preferences. He then suggested, among other things, that the pair “cuddle, ” “touch, ” make each other “feel good with each movement of the hand, ” and find each other's “sensitive spot.” Id.

         Defendant repeatedly suggested the two meet in-person. Id. Eventually, Rooster consented to meet Defendant at a local park. Rooster suggested Defendant bring “condoms and lube” to this meeting. Id. When Defendant arrived at the designated park, he texted Rooster his location and was promptly arrested. Agents searched his car and found both condoms and lube. (Affidavit of Special Agent John G. Mikel in support of Criminal Complaint, at ¶ 10, ECF No. 3)

         After his arrest, Defendant, a former police officer, was read his Miranda rights and then voluntarily agreed to be interviewed by agents without a lawyer present. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Defendant participated in an interview and a polygraph test that were audio and video recorded. After the polygraph test, Defendant was again interviewed by agents and at that time made the admissions at issue in this matter. (Statement, attached as Ex. 4 to Opposition, ECF No. 26-4). Those admissions are summarized by the Government as follows:

1. The defendant stated that approximately 10 years ago, while employed as a Honolulu Police Officer, that he had shared a bed with a 15-year old male friend of this stepson. The defendant stated that he engaged in a mutual masturbation episode with the 15-year old underage ...

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