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McGuire v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

May 22, 2018

GRACE NADINE McGUIRE
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

          FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF LOUDOUN COUNTY J. Howe Brown, Jr., Judge Designate

          Alexander Maxwell Ace for appellant.

          John I. Jones, IV, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

          Present: Judges Beales, Chafin and O'Brien Argued at Fredericksburg, Virginia

          OPINION

          TERESA M. CHAFIN JUDGE

         Following a jury trial, the Circuit Court of Loudoun County convicted Grace Nadine McGuire of giving a false report to a law enforcement official in violation of Code § 18.2-461. On appeal, McGuire contends the circuit court erred by determining venue was appropriate in Loudoun County. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the circuit court's decision.

         I. BACKGROUND

         "In accordance with established principles of appellate review, we state the facts in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the prevailing party in the trial court[, and] accord the Commonwealth the benefit of all inferences fairly deducible from the evidence." Riner v. Commonwealth, 268 Va. 296, 303, 601 S.E.2d 555, 558 (2004). So viewed, the evidence is as follows.

         On March 21, 2014, McGuire sent an email to the Loudoun County Sheriff's Department alleging a child was being sexually abused in Loudoun County. Deputy Joshua Brumbaugh called McGuire the next day in response to her email. McGuire told Brumbaugh that H.H., [1] a fifty-year-old man, was having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a fifteen-year-old girl at his Loudoun County residence. She then gave Brumbaugh an address where she believed H.H. lived, and demanded Brumbaugh to perform a "welfare check" at the address.

         McGuire became "combative" when Brumbaugh asked for more information about the sexual abuse. She told Brumbaugh she based her report on "intuition" and previous conversations with the victim. McGuire refused to give Brumbaugh the name of the alleged victim or any additional details regarding the sexual abuse. Eventually, McGuire told Brumbaugh she had an appointment and abruptly ended the conversation. Brumbaugh concluded the information provided by McGuire failed to justify a welfare check, and he did not investigate H.H. any further.

         On March 24, 2014, McGuire called the Loudoun County Sheriff's Department and reported H.H. was holding a fifteen-year-old girl at his home against her will and possibly sexually abusing her. As a result of this call, Deputy Sarah Purcell was dispatched to perform a welfare check at H.H.'s residence. Purcell called McGuire on her way to H.H.'s home. McGuire told Purcell that she used to babysit the girl at issue and that H.H. was an "old friend." McGuire then explained she "sensed" the girl was at H.H.'s home, and she was "absolutely positive" the girl was being sexually abused there. Nonetheless, McGuire admitted she had never seen the girl at H.H.'s residence.

         When Purcell arrived at H.H.'s home, he allowed her to search his residence for the girl at issue. Purcell did not find any children in the house. H.H. told Purcell that McGuire was a former colleague who previously filed lawsuits against him and his employer. He later clarified he had never met the alleged victim of the sexual abuse. After the search, Purcell called McGuire to inform her the girl was not at H.H.'s home. McGuire asked Purcell to contact the girl's family, and explained she could not contact them directly due to a protective order.

         Based on the statements she made to Purcell on March 24, 2014, McGuire was charged with giving a false report to a law enforcement official in violation of Code § 18.2-461. At her trial, McGuire claimed she reported the sexual abuse to the police due to an "overwhelming sensation" or "psychic impression." McGuire admitted, however, that she had never seen H.H. with the alleged victim of the sexual abuse or been told H.H. was abusing the girl.

         The evidence presented by the Commonwealth at McGuire's trial failed to establish the location where she placed the calls reporting the alleged sexual abuse to the police. While Purcell believed McGuire lived in Fairfax County, the Commonwealth did not introduce any evidence establishing she called the police from her home. Purcell testified she called McGuire while she was on patrol in ...


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