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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT M. PANKRAZ (03/08/89)

filed: March 8, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT M. PANKRAZ, APPELLANT



Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Bucks County, No. 5720-87.

COUNSEL

David L. Shenkle, Doylestown, for appellant.

Stephen B. Harris, Assistant District Attorney, Warrington, for Com., appellee.

Wieand, Montemuro and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Wieand

[ 382 Pa. Super. Page 118]

Robert M. Pankraz was tried by jury and was found guilty of simple assault,*fn1 indecent assault,*fn2 corruption of a minor,*fn3 recklessly endangering another person*fn4 and endangering the welfare of a child.*fn5 Post-trial motions were denied, and Pankraz was sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment for not less than two and one-half (2 1/2) years nor more than five (5) years. On direct appeal from the judgment of sentence, Pankraz contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the findings of guilt, that the alleged victim was incompetent to testify because of her age, and that she should not have been allowed to be seated in her grandmother's lap while testifying. We find no merit in these arguments and affirm the judgment of sentence.

[ 382 Pa. Super. Page 119]

Amy Hayes, the daughter of appellant, was four years of age at the time of the trial. She testified that, on an occasion prior to the time when she had gone to live with her maternal grandmother in October, 1986, appellant had repeatedly inserted a sharp object, which she believed to be a screwdriver or knife, into her vagina. With the assistance of an anatomically correct doll and a pen she was able to demonstrate the assault which had been made upon her by appellant. Her testimony was corroborated in part by Dr. Cynthia A. Briede, who had examined the child and found a "skin tag" in her vaginal tract. The doctor explained that the skin tag was not of recent origin, that the tag was the result of a scarring process following a trauma to the vaginal tract, and that much of the healing process had occurred. The injury, she said, was consistent with the placing of a screwdriver or knife in the child's vagina. The doctor also ruled out as possible causes a birth defect, a congenital defect, an infection, or the falling from a bicycle or bed. She concluded: "What I can say with certainty is that it would have to have been some sort of trauma to cause a tearing or a laceration of the mucosa, that there was injury to the mucosa probably with some bleeding at that time which has since healed and where the tissue came back together, it's caused a scar."

The child's testimony was also corroborated in part by her paternal and maternal grandmothers. While her diaper was being changed, the child told her paternal grandmother that "my daddy hurts me here" and placed her finger on her vagina. Her maternal grandmother testified that while Amy had been at her house she complained about soreness in the area of her vagina and that a visual examination had disclosed the area to be red and sore.

Appellant asks that we review the sufficiency of the evidence after eliminating the testimony of the child who, he contends, was an incompetent witness. It is well settled, however, that in determining the sufficiency of the evidence to support the verdict, we are required to consider all evidence actually received, whether the trial court's rulings

[ 382 Pa. Super. Page 120]

    on evidence were correct or incorrect. See: Commonwealth v. Manhart, 349 Pa. Super. 552, 556, 503 A.2d 986, 988 (1986); Commonwealth v. Nelson, 320 Pa. Super. 488, 494, 467 A.2d 638, 641 (1983); Commonwealth v. Minnis, 312 Pa. Super. 53, 55, 458 A.2d 231, 232 (1983). When all the evidence is examined in the instant case, it is clear that it was sufficient to support the verdict.

Appellant contends also that inserting a knife or screwdriver into the vagina of a child does not constitute corruption of a minor. It does not constitute a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6301, he argues, because "[i]t is obvious that the activity alleged did not give the child the sort of illicit pleasure which might tend to corrupt." (Appellant's brief at p. 3). We disagree.

Corruption of minors is defined by statute as follows:

(a) Offense defined. -- Whoever, being of the age of 18 years and upwards, by any act corrupts or tends to corrupt the morals of any minor less than 18 years of age, or who aids, abets, entices or encourages any such minor in the commission of any crime, or who knowingly assists or encourages such minor in violating his or her parole or any order of court, is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

18 Pa.C.S. § 6301(a) (emphasis added). In construing this statute, the Superior Court has said:

[T]he Commonwealth need not prove that the defendant's acts actually corrupted the minor's morals, but only that they tended to do so. See e.g. Commonwealth v. Davison, 243 Pa. Super. 12, 14 n. 1, 364 A.2d 425, 426 n. 1 (1976). Nor is the Commonwealth required to prove any particular sort or number of acts. In Commonwealth v. Mezaros, 194 Pa. Super. 462, 168 A.2d 781 (1961), this court said:

'Tending to Corrupt' like 'contributing to delinquency' is a broad term involving conduct toward a child in an unlimited variety of ways which tends to produce or to encourage or to continue conduct of the child which would amount to delinquent conduct: ...


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