For Sex Crimes, the Boundary Between City and County Dissolves

Jun 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

There are several excuses that won't fly in circuit court during child-molestation trials. "She looked like she could have been 18," for instance, is never a good defense.

Thanks to a Missouri Supreme Court ruling handed down yesterday, you can add another bad excuse to the list: "But I committed some of my dirty deeds outside city lines."

That was apparently the justification used by a sex offender named Daniel Primm, who took his case all the way up to the Missouri's highest court. But a panel of judges agreed unanimously: some crimes know no boundaries.

Primm, who lives in St. Louis County, was charged with multiple counts of sexually abusing his two grandnieces, who were 14 and 15 years old at the time.

The prosecution brought several charges against Primm, all of which occurred in the city. (The charges included four counts of second-degree statutory rape, three counts of second-degree statutory sodomy and three counts of second-degree child molestation.) Primm used Vaseline on at least one occasion. He also verbally abused the victims, telling them they were "getting thick."

During the trial, the victims also testified to sex acts that Primm committed outside the city, which allowed prosecutors to show the totality of Primm's scheme -- even though those acts were not included in the list of charges. During one of those incidents, Primm offered a bag of marijuana to one of the girls as a bribe to keep mum.

The jury ultimately convicted Primm, and the court sentenced Primm to twenty years in prison, prompting an appeal. Primm argued that the introduction of the St. Louis County evidence unfairly mucked up a case that was supposed to be focused on crimes committed with the city jurisdiction.

But the Supreme Court ruled that the admission of that evidence appropriately allowed prosecutors to establish Primm's motive of sexual desire.