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2010-UP-279 - State v. Donaldson

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

The State, Respondent,

v.

Aaron Grant Donaldson, Appellant.


Appeal from Richland County
 L. Casey Manning, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2010-UP-279
Submitted May 3, 2010 – Filed May 20, 2010   


AFFIRMED


Appellate Defender Kathrine H. Hudgins, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Assistant Attorney General William M. Blitch, Jr., and Solicitor Warren B. Giese, all of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Aaron Grant Donaldson was convicted of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor under the age of eleven, one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor between the ages of eleven and fourteen, and two counts of incest.  Donaldson appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in refusing to suppress a confession he made to his former pastor because it was protected by the clergyman-penitent privilege.  We affirm pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR,[1] and the following authorities:  S.C. Code Ann. § 19-11-90 (1985) (prohibiting the disclosure of any confidential communication with a clergyman only when it is properly entrusted to him in his professional capacity and necessary and proper to enable him to discharge the functions of his office according to the usual course of practice or discipline of his church or religious body); State v. Pagan, 369 S.C. 201, 208, 631 S.E.2d 262, 265 (2006) (holding that an abuse of discretion occurs when the decision of the trial court is based upon an error of law or upon factual findings that are without evidentiary support); State v. Schumpert, 312 S.C. 502, 507, 435 S.E.2d 859, 862 (1993) (providing that any error in the admission of evidence is harmless when the improper evidence is cumulative to other evidence); Rivers v. Rivers, 292 S.C. 21, 26, 354 S.E.2d 784, 787 (Ct. App. 1987) (holding that the burden of showing the facts required to establish the clergyman-penitent privilege rests on the party objecting to the disclosure of the communication and the trial court's determination of whether a communication is privileged is conclusive absent an abuse of discretion), superseded by statute on other grounds as recognized in Russo v. Sutton, 310 S.C. 200, 422 S.E.2d 750 (1992).

AFFIRMED.

KONDUROS and LOCKEMY, JJ., and CURETON, A.J., concur.


[1] We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.