United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
Petitioner Raymond Skoloda has filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, challenging a conviction and sentence imposed by the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1). In this petition, Skoloda puts forth two counts of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Id. For the reasons set forth below, the petition is denied.
On September 13, 2007, Skoloda’s trial commenced for two counts of aggravated indecent assault, one count of indecent assault, and one count of corruption of minors. (Doc. 18, Ex. 1). The first witness called by the prosecution was E.M., the sixteen year old victim in the incident. Id. at 3-4. E.M. testified that she was best friends with Skoloda’s daughter, and on the evening of December 9, 2006, she was sleeping over at Skoloda’s house. Id. at 5. That evening, E.M. went to sleep in the same bed as her friend. Id. at 6. At some point the next morning, E.M. awoke to find Skoloda’s hand down her pants and fingers were inside her vagina. Id. at 7. Although she was scared, E.M. told Skoloda to get off of her, at which point Skoloda told her to “meet him in his bedroom in five minutes.” Id.
E.M. testified that she was scared, and therefore did not run out of the house; instead, she waited until her friend awoke to tell her what had happened. Id. at 8. E.M. did not wake her friend right away to tell her because she was “afraid that she would stop being friends with me.” Id. After E.M. told her friend about the incident, the friend got her mother, Barbara Skoloda from downstairs. Id. at 9. E.M. then told Ms. Skoloda what had occurred. Id. E.M. waited to call her father because she was scared what he would do, but after she told her father, they went to police station. Id. at 9-10.
E.M. had spent the night at Skoloda’s house several times previously, and testified that nothing appeared out of the ordinary on December 9, 2006. Id. at 11-12. E.M. and her friend were sleeping fairly close to each other on a full size bed which could fit two people, but could “[n]ot really” fit a third person. Id. at 14-15. E.M. was sleeping under the covers while wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants. Id. When she woke the next morning, Skoloda was “partially on top of [her] and alongside of [her] with his fingers in [her] privates[.]” Id. E.M. clarified Skoloda’s position by stating that he was “leaning on the bed” near her head with his hands under the covers, but he was not on the blankets. Id. at 16.
When asked whether the bed shook when Skoloda got off the bed, E.M. stated that it did not really shake because Skoloda “wasn’t really all the way on it.” Id. at 17. Rather, Skoloda was kneeling on the floor. Id. E.M. testified that her friend did not wake up during this incident. Id. E.M. never went to the hospital as a result of this incident, nor did she ask Ms. Skoloda to call the police. Id. at 21. She waited approximately four or five hours to call her father because she was scared that he “would beat up” Skoloda. Id. at 22-23.
After E.M. testified, Skoloda’s daughter Sammy testified. Id. at 25. Sammy stated that on December 9, 2006, E.M. was sleeping over at her house. Id. at 27. Sammy testified that the next morning, E.M. was upset and “a wreck[;]” she then proceeded to tell Sammy what had occurred earlier that morning. Id. at 28. Sammy went downstairs and told her mother what had happened, and her mother went upstairs to speak with E.M. Id. at 29. Sammy testified that during the events that morning, she did not wake up, and agreed with Skoloda’s counsel that she was “a pretty heavy sleeper[.]” Id. at 32. Sammy did not see any of the events that transpired. Id.
Ms. Skoloda was then called to testify. Id. at 39. Ms. Skoloda stated that on December 9, 2006, E.M. was staying at her home. Id. at 40-41. At 5:30 in the morning on December 10, 2006, Ms. Skoloda was awoken by her husband forcing his penis into her mouth. Id. at 41. Thereafter, Ms. Skoloda got up and went downstairs to sleep on her couch, where she remained until she was awakened at 11:30 a.m. by her scared and pale-faced daughter telling her they needed to speak upstairs. Id. at 42. When Ms. Skoloda reached her daughter’s room, E.M. was crying on the bed, but tearfully explained what had occurred. Id. at 43. Ms. Skoloda told E.M. to call her father, but E.M. was hesitant because she did not want her father to hurt Skoloda. Id.
On cross-examination, Ms. Skoloda acknowledged that she neither saw nor heard anything occur between E.M. and Skoloda that morning. Id. at 45. When she confronted Skoloda, he denied that anything had happened. Id. She argued with Skoloda about the incident, at which point he left the house and did not return for one month. Id. at 46.
Finally, Harry Madara, E.M.’s father, was called to testify. Id. at 53. Around 11 a.m. on December 10, 2006, Mr. Madara received a phone call from his daughter. Id. at 55. E.M. was crying and asked to be picked up, but was evasive about what had occurred. Id. Mr. Madara asked to speak with Ms. Skoloda, who explained what had occurred; at that point, Mr. Madara went to pick up his daughter. Id. at 55-56. Mr. Madara then spoke on the phone with Skoloda, who denied remembering what had happened. Id. at 56.
After the prosecution rested, Skoloda testified to the events that had occurred. Id. at 59. He stated that on the evening of December 9, 2006, he and his wife were fighting, so she slept on the downstairs couch while he slept on the loveseat downstairs. Id. at 63. Skoloda testified that he first became aware that he was being accused of molesting E.M. when his wife woke him up in the morning “screaming in [his] face[.]” Id. at 65. Skoloda told his wife that he had not touched anyone because he was sleeping on the loveseat the entire time. Id. He informed his wife and E.M. that if they believed he had touched E.M. inappropriately, they should call the police and E.M.’s father. Id. at 66. Skoloda stated that his wife and daughter screamed at him for three hours until he left, but never called the police. Id. at 67.
After leaving his home, Skoloda checked himself into a hospital for fourteen days. Id. at 67-68. Skoloda stated that he visited his home every day during the next month, but was not aware that the police were looking for him until January 30, 2007, when the police took him to the police station for questioning. Id. at 68. Skoloda further testified that he had contact with E.M. after the incident, and that she had spent the night at his house again after that. Id. at 70. He further asserted that during the phone conversation with Mr. Madara, he denied ever touching E.M., and insisted that Mr. Madara was lying about their conversation. Id. at 71.
Skoloda testified that his daughter’s bed was small, but he did not know whether E.M. had slept in the bed that night because he never entered the room. Id. at 72. Skoloda reiterated that he never touched E.M. and never performed the acts that E.M. accused him of. Id. at 73. Skoloda also insisted that his wife was lying; he had never slept in the bedroom with her, and had never attempted to force his penis into her mouth. Id. at 77. Skoloda theorized that E.M. made the story up “[p]robably to get me out of the house because they wanted me out of the house.” Id. ...