By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
The conviction of a Natrona County man who repeatedly sexually assaulted women and then threatened their lives was upheld Wednesday by the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Samuel Joseph Barrett, who was convicted in October 2020 on six counts of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of blackmail, lost his challenge of his child exploitation conviction.
Barrett argued there was insufficient evidence to prove he produced child pornography involving his son and a babysitter, who he threatened with a gun.
Justices unanimously disagreed and upheld the conviction.
According to the ruling written by Justice Lynne Boomgaarden, Barrett was charged in connection with a string of assaults dating back to 2012.
He was convicted of sexually assaulting two women at gunpoint and ordering a third, also at gunpoint, to perform oral sex on his infant son.
The girl, who went to Barrett’s home in 2014 to babysit his son, “leaned down, tried to hide the side of her face wth her hair and repeatedly kissed the child’s stomach.”
When she looked up, the ruling said, she said she saw Barrett pointing a phone camera at her. He then sexually assaulted her.
Barrett used the video over the next six months to blackmail the girl to force her to have sex with him, the ruling said.
The girl reported the incidents to her parents and the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office after a final assault in July 2015, but the case was never submitted to the Natrona County District Attorney’s office for prosecution.
After being found guilty of the charges, Barrett argued the jury in his case was not given enough evidence to prove he produced child pornography, an element necessary for his conviction on a charge of sexual exploitation of a child.
Barrett argued the video he filmed could not be considered pornography because it does not depict “any genitalia, erection, or arousal.”
But justices agreed that jurors, who saw the video, could conclude it qualified as child pornography.
“From this evidence, the jury could reasonably conclude the video met the definition of child pornography in that it was a visual depiction involving the use of a child engaged in simulated oral-genital intercourse,” the ruling said. “The video .. explicitly portrayed the act and a reasonable viewer would believe (the girl) actually engaged in such conduct.”
Barrett also challenged the trial court’s admission as evidence records from his 2009 conviction to a charge of second-degree sexual abuse in an incident involving one of the women he was convicted of assaulting again in 2019.
In her examination by a nurse after the assault in 2019, the woman said the assault which occurred in 2009, when she was 15, was not forced and that Barrett offered her drugs and money to sleep with him.
The ruling said that after running into each other several times in Mills in 2019, the victim went to Barrett’s home to get a check he had promised her “as amends” for what had happened 10 years earlier.
There, the ruling said, Barrett pointed a gun at the woman’s head and said “You ruined my life and now I’m going to ruin yours.” He forced her to perform oral sex on him before she could escape.
The trial court agreed to allow the records of Barrett’s 2009 conviction as evidence, arguing it was relevant as to Barrett’s motive in the assault in 2019.
“These facts, along with evidence that Mr. Barrett had to register as a sex offender as a result of his conviction, helped explain why Mr. Barrett may have had motive to sexually assault (the woman) in 2019, particularly where he told her ‘You ruined my life and now I’m going to ruin yours,’” the ruling said.