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Child Sex Abuse Evidence Problems

NCJ Number
University of Dayton Law Review Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Dated: (Fall 1986) Pages: 27-44
R P Ringland
Date Published
18 pages
Courts throughout Ohio are increasingly addressing and agreeing on the many issues relating to evidence and testimony in child sexual abuse cases, although evidentiary problems still exist that require further review, discussion, and possible reform.
The sufficiency of the indictment is a critical issue in the prosecution of defendants in child sex abuse cases. The lack of meaning of time to young children makes it difficult to pinpoint an exact time that alleged events occurred, however. The courts or legislation should expressly address the need for a specific time in the indictment where a defendant has filed specific alibi notification. The courts or the legislature should also review the presumption of incompetency of children under age 10. In addition, they should more specifically define unnecessary parties in closure cases. Moreover, the courts should use their rulemaking power to amend Evidence Rule 803(4) relating to the identification of the perpetrator or statements of fault. The courts must also settle the issues surrounding expert opinions and the testimony of child abuse team members. In making these changes, both the courts and the legislatures must be careful also to address the rights of the accused, because overzealous reform may lead to appellate reversal or eventual legislative backlash or inaction that reverses the apparent reforms that have already been made. 121 footnotes.


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