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Rouse v. Wilson

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 4, 2017

JESSE ROUSE, Petitioner,
v.
DENESE WILSON, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Herndon, Judge.

         Petitioner Jesse Rouse, an inmate in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 challenging his 1994 conviction for aggravated sexual abuse of a minor. Now before the Court is Rous's amended petition under § 2241 (Doc. 6).

         Rouse was convicted by a jury in the District Court of South Dakota of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2241(c) and was sentenced to thirty-three years imprisonment. As grounds for habeas relief, Rouse claims that he has new evidence that shows he is actually innocent. The new evidence consists of affidavits purportedly from his victims stating that he never abused them.

         Respondent argues that petitioner is precluded from bringing a §2241 petition because the evidence is not new and petitioner raised this claim years ago in a motion for new trial.

         1. Relevant Facts and Procedural History

         On direct appeal, a divided panel of the Eighth Circuit initially reversed and remanded for a new trial. United States v. Rouse, 100 F.3d 560, 566 (8th Cir. 1996). However, the Eighth Circuit granted rehearing and affirmed the convictions. United States v. Rouse, 111 F.3d 561 (8th Cir. 1997).

         The facts giving underlying petitioner's conviction are described in detail in the Eighth Circuit's opinion affirming the convictions after rehearing. Rouse, his brother, and two cousins were convicted of sexually abusing young female relatives on the Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation:

The victims are granddaughters of Rosemary Rouse. During the summer and fall of 1993, defendants lived at Rosemary's home on the Yankton Sioux Reservation. The victims also lived or spent a great deal of time at this home. In October 1993, five-year-old R.R. was placed with Donna Jordan, an experienced foster parent, due to neglect and malnutrition. R.R. disclosed apparent sexual abuse to Jordan, who reported to the Tribe's Department of Social Services (“DSS”) (as Jordan was required to do) that R.R. said she had been sexually abused. On January 10, 1994, DSS told Jordan to take R.R. to therapist Ellen Kelson. After an initial interview, Kelson reported to DSS (as Kelson was required to do) that R.R. had reported acts of sexual abuse against herself and other children in the Rouse home. On January 11, DSS removed thirteen children living in the Rouse home and placed them in Jordan's foster home. Of the four who disclosed sexual abuse by their uncles, T.R. was seven years old, L.R. was six, R.R. was five, and J.R. was four and one-half. The fifth victim of the alleged offenses, F. R., was a twenty-month-old infant.

Rouse, 111 F.3d at 565.

         The children were examined by two physicians who found physical injuries consistent with sexual abuse. The evidence at trial included the testimony of the four oldest children and another child who witnessed acts of abuse, medical evidence, medical experts for the government and for the defense, and the testimony of an FBI agent who interviewed the children. Id, at 566. Petitioner was ultimately convicted of abusing T.R. and J.R. Rouse, 100 F.3d at 566.

         In February 1997, petitioner and his co-defendants filed a motion for new trial in their criminal case, alleging that the victims had recanted their testimony. United States v. Rouse, Case No. 94-cr-40015-LLP (D.S.D, February 19, 1997).

         While the motion for new trial was pending, Rouse filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2255. Rouse did not argue in this motion that the victims had testified falsely or had recanted their testimony. The motion was denied as untimely on September 20, 1999. Rouse did not appeal. Rouse v. United States, Case No. 98-cv-4213-LLP (D. S.D. Sept. 20, 1999).

         The district court held a lengthy evidentiary hearing on the motion for new trial. The four older victims and the child who witnessed the abuse ...


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