Opinion of Appellate Court here.
Jeff wrote:In the '90s Collins was charged with repeatedly molesting his stepdaughters, and sentenced to 30-50 years. Appellate judges denied his appeal, writing "Collins' abuse of these girls is so bizarre that even those of us who think we have 'seen it all' are appalled."
Ill. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Collins is a psychotherapist who specialized in treating victims of sexual abuse. Collins and Rita were married in 1984 and had their own psychotherapy business. Collins also worked at Boys' Town, where he helped children with sexual abuse problems. He has written three books dealing with sexually abused youths. Rita had two children, J.C. and S.C., from a former marriage. J.C., born March 3, 1972, and S.C., born August 4, 1974, were, respectively, 12 and 10 at the time of Collins' marriage to Rita.
Exhibit 1 reflects that Collins started touching J.C. inappropriately when she was 12 or 13, and this abuse escalated and eventually progressed into having sexual intercourse twice a week when J.C. was 17. J.C. turned 17 in March 1989. Collins stated that intercourse continued until J.C. ended her relationship with him in late 1994 or early 1995. The abuse continued through visits and "phone sex" after she went to Dartmouth College. She stated that on several occasions, she told Collins she wanted to stop or did not want to have sex with him and that he would become agitated and have long talks with her. On one such occasion, he sat up with her half the night with a knife in his hand and threatened to kill her, stating that nobody would care or know. He also told her that she had nothing to be angry about because he had not raped her and that if she wanted something to be angry about, he would rape her.
In 1992, when J.C. was in Omaha on a visit from Dartmouth, Collins sexually penetrated both her and her sister in a bedroom in the basement of their home. On two occasions in 1993, Collins visited J.C. in Boston, and sexual penetration occurred. In early 1994, J.C. told Collins that she did not want to see him anymore. Collins continued to call her, but she refused to have further contact with him. He admitted having sexual intercourse with J.C., until she cut off their relationship. He also admitted asking her to photograph or videotape her sexual relationships with other persons
and discussing these relationships with her.
The abuse of S.C. is reflected in exhibits 2 and 3. Inappropriate touching began with S.C. when she was 10 and progressed to sexual penetration when she was 13. She related an incident where Collins accused her biological father of being a child molester because she had taken a shower with him. S.C. confronted Collins about molesting her, and he explained that he was only teaching her, looking out for her best interests, and doing it with love
and, thus, that he was not a molester. The abuse occurred on a daily basis every time her mother would leave the house and whenever Collins would drive her to his office. S.C. stated that Collins encouraged her to have sexual intercourse with every boy she dated
and that he also questioned her about her sexual partners and asked her to photograph and videotape her relationships with other persons. She broke off her relationship with Collins shortly after their last sexual encounter, which occurred in December 1994, while she was home on a visit from college at Oberlin Conservatory.
Collins did not deny any of the abuse. In fact, he admits that the abuse occurred over the past decade essentially as the girls described it. He also describes himself as being a very controlling person. Collins admitted that he would have one girl wait downstairs to watch for their mother while he was upstairs having sexual intercourse with the other. He admitted asking the girls to photograph their sexual encounters with other persons, even obtaining a camera for them to do so
. He admitted to sexual penetration of both girls in 1992. During his abuse of both victims, he assured them that he was just teaching them about proper sexual relationships and how to enjoy their sexuality. The girls felt that he kept them under his control even after they left for college, because he called them several times a day and because the sexual abuse occurred whenever they saw him.
IV. ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR
Restated, Collins asserts that
(1) the trial court erred in convicting him of sexually assaulting J.C., because there is not sufficient evidence of her mental incapacity to consent to the sexual acts
and because the statute of limitations had run on the crime charged; and (2) his sentences on both counts are excessive. Collins does not challenge his conviction on the assault charge relating to S.C.
In sum, the evidence viewed most favorably to the State is that Collins, a highly trained psychotherapist who specialized in treating sexually abused youth, used the tools and techniques of his trade to mold both of these young girls into his sexual robots.
As a father figure, he set about "grooming" them at a very young age to accept that this was a normal, healthy sexual relationship that would lead to maturity and happiness. We believe the evidence is ample to establish that Collins' manipulation and deception of J.C. rendered her incapable of resisting or appraising the real nature of the sexual penetration that he visited upon her during the relevant time period. Moreover, that someone of Collins' training knew or should have known of such diminished capacity needs no further discussion. This assignment of error is without merit.
We understand that Collins may indeed feel genuine sorrow for these crimes and that the shame and personal losses resulting from these convictions are significant punishments. Nevertheless, Collins' abuse of these girls is so bizarre that even those of us who think we have "seen it all" are appalled. And, more importantly, Collins' conduct continues to haunt the lives of both J.C. and S.C., as the presentence report reflects that each is in counseling and will require it on an ongoing basis.