By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Testimony regarding a Riverton man’s “sexually inappropriate” advances toward teenage girls will not be considered in his child molestation trial, a state district judge has ruled.
Judge Jason Conder decided the testimony regarding David Wayne Munda would not be relevant to the allegations against him that he sexually touched two minor children and molested one of them.
Munda, born in 1978, was charged last September with multiple counts of first-degree sexual abuse stemming from allegations that he touched a girl inappropriately when she was 5 and went on to sexually assault her for several years, starting when she began fifth grade.
He also is charged with sexual solicitation of another girl, with battery for punching the girl he’s accused of molesting and with additional, non-sexual child abuse charges against two male children.
If convicted on all counts, Munda could face a possible sentence of more than 240 years in prison.
His trial is scheduled for May 16 in Fremont County District Court.
The Fremont County Attorney’s Office had argued in court documents that at least six allegations that Munda made sexual advances toward teenage girls were relevant as trial evidence because they would establish Munda’s habit of “pedophilia.”
But Conder ruled on Monday that while the testimony would show “inappropriate” behavior on Munda’s part, it was not required to prove the main accusations in the case, that he sexually touched two specific minor children and molested of one of them.
Conder also noted that usually “pedophilia” is categorized as an attraction toward prepubescent children, not toward teenage girls.
The allegations of improper advances included one from a woman now in her mid-30s, who worked at a salon with Munda while he was a massage therapist there roughly a decade ago.
She remembered Munda asking teenage receptionists “questions about boyfriends, birth control, sexual preferences, habits, and offering them free massages.”
A woman who was between the ages of 15 and 18 when she worked with Munda while he was general manager at a Taco Bell in Riverton from 2009 to 2011, told investigators that Munda told her she had potential, if she would “be friendly.” He also told her she needed to be “friendly” with him. The woman said Munda repeatedly touched her back.
Another woman, now about 20, who worked with Munda at the same restaurant from 2018 to 2020, between her ages of 15 and 17, called him “very touchy,” adding that he often rubbed her back and asked her questions about sex and what she preferred. One time, the woman said, he grabbed her hips from behind and pulled her into him.
When Munda brought her into his office, the woman alleged, he hugged her and kissed her on the cheek, saying he was proud of her. She quit soon after.
A woman born in 2000 who worked with Munda at a Riverton movie theater from 2017-2018 said Munda asked her sexual questions, would “often” yell at her and hug her “intimately” afterward.
Now about 20, a woman who worked with Munda at the same theater when she was about 15 said Munda would “often” ask her sexual questions and would talk about teenage girls with whom he wanted to perform a sex act.
“(Munda) would invite her to late night screenings of movies,” court documents state, “and if she declined he would criticize her work performance” and make her return to the theater to fix what prosecutors called a “contrived problem.”
Other Evidence Admitted
Conder wrote that the evidence from Taco Bell and theater employees suggested “obvious and overwhelmingly inappropriate behavior” toward the teens in a way that could prejudice the jury against him without sufficiently advancing the state’s case in the charges being tried.
This evidence, wrote Conder “mainly serves to show that the defendant is an inappropriate person,” and may spark “five mini-trials” that would distract from the more “reprehensible” charges of child sex abuse.
But other testimony concerning Munda’s involvement with and comments about the main victim will be allowed at trial.
Those actions are “inextricably intertwined” with the molestations for which Munda is being tried, Conder wrote, and may prove a pattern of “grooming.”