Appeals court upholds child molestation convictions of Richmond man

INDIANAPOLIS — A Richmond man has lost his bid to overturn two child molestation convictions.

Randy L. Bussen, 31, is serving a 37-year sentence at the Miami Correctional Facility at Bunker Hill, according to Indiana Department of Corrections records. Its scheduled release date is July 22, 2050.

A Wayne County jury convicted Bussen on April 7 of two Tier 1 felony counts of child molestation, and Judge Charles Todd Jr. handed down an aggravated sentence seven years longer than standard for a felony tier 1 conviction. Four other charges against Bussen were later dismissed.

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Bussen’s appeal claimed that the court erred in admitting certain testimony and that there was prosecutorial misconduct during closing remarks. The Court of Appeal rejected both of his claims.

The court found no error in the admission of the disputed testimony, but its opinion stated that even if there had been an error, the error would have been harmless because the convictions were supported by “substantial independent evidence of his guilt”.

During the trial, the child victim testified with details about the cases that happened when she was 3 and 4 years old, according to the opinion. This testimony was also the subject of cross-examination.

The impugned testimony was brief general statements, so the appeals court was not satisfied that the testimony contributed to the jury’s verdicts.

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Likewise, the court did not find that Bussen’s appeal showed Crown misconduct, let alone rising to the level of fundamental error to overturn the convictions. The appeal challenged the comments during closing arguments, saying they “guaranteed” the credibility of witnesses.

The appeals court ruled that the comments were supported by evidence from the trial or were logical and reasonable conclusions based on analysis of testimony.

Bussen was arrested on November 5, 2018, on a warrant for six counts of child molestation, three as felonies tier 1 and three as felonies tier 4, which involved four girls and incidents ranging from 2015 to March 2018. The children described times when Bussen allegedly exposed himself to them, fondled them while they slept and more, according to case records.

The charges were severed for trial by victim, and the charges on which Bussen was convicted took place in August or September 2015 and between January and April 2016.

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