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Analysis of Legal Issues Involved in Presentation of Child's Testimony by Two-Way Closed-Circuit Television in Sexual Abuse Cases (From Papers From a National Conference on Legal Reforms in Child Sexual Abuse Cases, March 1985, Josephine Bulkley, ed. -- See NCJ-107173)

NCJ Number
K K Coppel
Date Published
11 pages
This paper proposes advancing child protection in child sexual abuse cases without sacrificing defendants' constitutional rights by use of closed-circuit television to present children's testimony in child sexual abuse trials.
Closed-circuit television provides two-way audio and visual confrontation by conducting the trial in two separate rooms joined as one. Proceedings are broadcast simultaneously from a 'defendant's room' and a 'child's room' with a minimum of two television monitors and two cameras in each room. Several court cases are cited as supporting the use of closed-circuit television in child sexual abuse trials. Washington v. State (1984) demonstrated court recognition of children's unique needs in the courtroom by allowing the videotaping of an 11-year-old victim shown to be under severe emotional strain. In State of New Jersey v. Sheppard (1984), the court granted simultaneous viewing of the victim's testimony from a room separate from the defendant. State statutory approaches to the issue in California, Arizona, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington, and Texas are briefly reviewed. Closed-circuit television provides more protection of the defendant's rights than pretrial videotaping of the child because the child's testimony is presented simultaneously with the proceedings. It also provides the right of cross-examination. Closed-circuit television satisfies all the elements of the defendant's right of confrontation outlined by the U.S. Supreme Court in California v. Green (1970) and Ohio v. Roberts (1980). The paper recommends cautious use of closed-circuit television since there is no statutory authority for it in most States, but also recommends that States develop closed-circuit television legislation in conjunction with their videotaping statutes. 34 footnotes.