State v. Register, 206 N.C. App. 629 (Sept. 7, 2010)

In a child sexual abuse case involving a female victim, the trial court did not err by allowing testimony from four individuals (three females and one male) that the defendant sexually abused them when they were children. The events occurred 14, 21, and 27 years prior to the abuse at issue. Citing State v. Jacob, 113 N.C. App. 605 (1994), and State v. Frazier, 121 N.C. App. 1 (1995), the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the evidence lacked sufficient temporal proximity to the events in question. The challenged testimony, showing common plan, established a strikingly similar pattern of sexually abusive behavior by the defendant over a period of 31 years in that: the defendant was married to each of the witnesses' mothers or aunt; the victims were prepubescent; the incidents occurred when the defendant's wife was at work and he was watching the children; and the abuse involved fondling, fellatio, or cunnilingus, mostly taking place in the defendant's wife's bed. Although there was a significant gap in time between the last abuse and the events in question, that gap was the result of defendant's not having access to children related to his wife and thus did not preclude admission under Rule 404(b). Finally, the court held that trial judge did not abuse his discretion by admitting this evidence under Rule 403.