United States v. Thomas Peterson

United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 16-4288 ___________________________ United States of America lllllllllllllllllllll Plaintiff - Appellee v. Thomas Peterson lllllllllllllllllllll Defendant - Appellant ____________ Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska - Lincoln ____________ Submitted: November 17, 2017 Filed: April 4, 2018 ____________ Before BENTON, SHEPHERD, and KELLY, Circuit Judges. ____________ SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge. Defendant Thomas Peterson, a former probation officer, appeals his conviction on four counts of the deprivation of his female probationers’ civil rights in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242 and his subsequent sentence of 108 months imprisonment. Peterson argues: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions; (2) the district court1 erred in rejecting his theory of defense instruction; (3) the district court procedurally erred in calculating his sentence; and (4) his sentence is substantively unreasonable. We disagree and affirm Peterson’s conviction and sentence. I. Background Peterson was a state deputy probation officer with the District 9 Probation Office in Kearney, Nebraska. From approximately October 2010 through January 2014, Peterson’s caseload was comprised entirely of the highest risk offenders—offenders who are deemed most likely to re-offend based upon their criminal history, record of compliance with supervision, and alcohol and drug abuse. It was Peterson’s job to supervise these offenders, including conducting home visits, monitoring compliance with terms of release, and reporting the offenders’ progress to the court. A report that the offenders failed to comply with the terms of their supervision could result in the probationers having their probation revoked, sending the offenders to jail or prison. During the same time period, Peterson engaged in inappropriate sexual acts and inappropriate sexual contact with several of his female probationers.2 Peterson would conduct home visits alone, despite the Probation Office’s policy to send two officers, and would engage in inappropriate sexual behavior during those visits. He also engaged in sexual conduct with probationers in his office during their probation meetings. Peterson would warn the probationers when random drug tests were going to be conducted and when other probation officers were going to perform unannounced home visits, using this information to pressure his probationers into 1 The Honorable Richard G. Kopf, United States District Judge for the District of Nebraska. 2 The phrases “sexual act[s]” and “sexual contact” are used in accordance with their definitions in 18 U.S.C. § 2246(2)(A)-(C), (3). -2- repaying him with sexual favors. Peterson further coerced his probationers by frequently commenting on the power he had over them and his ability to put offenders in jail. At trial, the probationers all testified that they feared standing up to Peterson or rejecting his advances because of the authority that he had over them. On July 29, 2016, a jury convicted Peterson of four counts of Deprivation of Civil Rights under 18 U.S.C. § 242 and one count of making False Statements to a Government Agent under 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Prior to submitting the case to the jury, Peterson requested a theory of defense jury instruction, ...

Original document
Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals