United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Evidence — other acts
In a prosecution for inducing or coercing a minor to create sexually explicit images, the district court properly admitted evidence that the defendant molested two of the victim’s sisters.
Undoubtedly, as Roux argues, testimony that the defendant has sexually abused children is highly prejudicial; but we are not persuaded that the district court wrongfully concluded that the testimony was unfairly prejudicial to Roux. See Fed. R. Evid. 403. Our cases addressing the admission of molestation evidence have recognized the substantial prejudice that it necessarily poses to any defendant; yet, we have regularly sustained the admission of such evidence when probative of a defendant’s motive, intent, or other pertinent (and admissible) factor. See, e.g., United States v. Chambers, 642 F.3d 588, 595-96 (7th Cir. 2011); United States v. Zahursky, 580 F.3d 515, 525 (7th Cir. 2009); Sebolt, 460 F.3d at 917. We have also emphasized that we owe deference to a district judge’s balancing of probative value versus risk of undue prejudice under Rule 403, given that the judge presiding over the trial has a superior familiarity with and appreciation for the context and ramifications of the proffered evidence. See, e.g., White, 698 F.3d at 1018; United States v. Hosseini, 679 F.3d 544, 556 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 133 S. Ct. 623, 774 (2012). The record in this case reveals that the district judge carefully weighed the relevance of CC’s and SH’s testimony along with the prejudice that it posed to Roux’s defense. The judge also gave the jury the standard instruction limiting its consideration of the other acts evidence, and notwithstanding the prejudicial nature of the evidence in this case, we presume that the jury followed that instruction. E.g., Chambers, 642 F.3d at 595-96.2 And, for what it is worth, we note that Roux does not contend, and the trial record does not indicate, that the government in any way overstepped its bounds with respect to this evidence. See Sebolt, 460 F.3d at 917. Having reviewed the record, we are not convinced that this is a case in which we should disturb the district court’s judgment as to the relative probative value and prejudicial effect of the other acts evidence.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Mihm, J., Rovner, J.