Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Dominguez: 2G2.2(b)(5) Enhancement for Pattern of Sexual Abuse Does Not Require Physical Contact

In United States v. Dominguez, No. 19-11378 (May 13, 2021) (Jordan, Jill Pryor, Branch), the Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the defendant’s sentence.

To determine whether an enhancement was appropriate under USSGS 2G2.2(b)(5) for engaging in a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor, the Court sided with the government over the defendant and the Fourth Circuit over the Seventh Circuit in holding that “sexual abuse or exploitation,” which effectively incorporates the phrase “sexual activity” in 18 USC 2422(b), did not require actual or attempted physical contact between two persons.  Rather, the phrase means action or pursuit relating to intercourse or to the desire for sex or carnal pleasure.  In this case, the defendant sent a minor a photo of his penis and asked her for naked pictures, and that constituted “sexual activity.”  However, the Court remanded for the district court to determine, in the first instance, whether the defendant’s conduct could have been charged as a criminal offense, a separate requirement for the enhancement.