Menu icon Access the Business Officer Magazine menu by clicking or touching here.
Colorado Lawyer Magazine logo, click or touch this logo to return to the homepage Click or touch the Colorado Lawyer Magazine logo to return to the homepage. Search

People v. Shannon.

2024 COA 41. No. 22CA0014. Use of Exhibits During Jury Deliberation—Recorded Out-of-Court Witness Statements—Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude—Solicitation for Child Prostitution—Inducement of Child Prostitution—Colorado Constitution Article II—Equal Protection.

April 25, 2024

Shannon initiated a sexual relationship with K.B. when she was 13 or 14 years old. K.B. ended the relationship when she was 15 years old, after she started dating someone else. Three years later, K.B. told the police about her relationship with Shannon. K.B. then placed two recorded pretext phone calls to Shannon during which she said multiple times that Shannon had had sex with her when she was underage. At times Shannon agreed with K.B.’s accusations and expressed his regret, but at other times he remained silent. Shannon was charged with and convicted of sexual assault on a child, sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, sexual assault on a child as part of a pattern of abuse, human trafficking a minor for sexual servitude, and sexual assault on a victim between 15 and 17 years of age. The district court sentenced him to a controlling term of 15 years to life in the custody of the Department of Corrections.

On appeal, Shannon contended that the district court erred by letting the jury have unrestricted access to the two recorded pretext telephone calls. The court of appeals decided that recorded phone calls between a sexual assault victim and the defendant in which the defendant confesses to criminal conduct are substantially the same as defendants’ interviews with police officers, for which unrestricted jury access is presumptively allowable. Accordingly, the trial court may give a deliberating jury unrestricted access to such recordings without assessing whether there is unfair prejudice to the defendant under the cases dealing with recorded interviews of sexual assault victims. Here, during the recorded pretext conversations, Shannon responded to K.B.’s assertions, so the conversations were akin to police interviews. Therefore, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that the jury could have unrestricted access to the recordings.

Shannon also argued that the district court erred by admitting expert testimony about child sexual abuse without first making findings under People v. Shreck, 22 P.3d 68 (Colo. 2001), arguing that the trial court didn’t explain why the expert’s testimony was relevant. Here, the expert testified generally about delayed disclosure by child sexual assault victims and the grooming of child victims. The relevance was thus obvious, as K.B. delayed reporting, provided somewhat inconsistent descriptions of Shannon’s actions, and had difficulty with some relevant dates; and the prosecution theorized that Shannon had groomed the victim. Therefore, the trial court did not err in admitting the testimony. Further, given that Shannon’s first two arguments failed, his contention that cumulative error requires reversal is unsupported.

Lastly, Shannon asserted that his human trafficking for sexual servitude conviction violates his right to equal protection. He maintained that because his conduct violated two other criminal statutes that carry lesser penalties—soliciting for child prostitution under CRS § 18-7-402(1)(a) and inducement of child prostitution under CRS § 18-7-405.5(1)—both of which are class 3 felonies, he can’t be convicted of the greater offense of human trafficking for sexual servitude. However, the statutes at issue proscribe different conduct, and Shannon’s conduct violated the human trafficking statute in ways that aren’t proscribed by the lesser offenses, so his human trafficking conviction doesn’t violate his right to equal protection.

The judgment of conviction was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

Back to the From the Courts Page