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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 158011 Find in a Library
Title: Evaluating the Expert Witness: The Mental Health Expert in Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Journal: American Journal of Family Law  Volume:9  Dated:(1995)  Pages:1-9
Author(s): R Schultz
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 9
Type: Training (Aid/Material)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article outlines some ways in which attorneys who litigate child sexual abuse cases can recognize and challenge the quality of the testimony of mental health expert witnesses.
Abstract: Attorneys can validate or challenge the expertise of an expert witness by first inquiring into the professional's postgraduate training and experience specific to child sexual abuse. Second, inquire into the expert's knowledge of current professional literature specific to the case. Qualified professionals should be familiar with the dynamics that lead to false allegations of child sexual abuse specific to child custody disputes. Experts should be questioned regarding their knowledge of the incidence of deliberate fabrication by children, the difference between false and unfounded allegations, and the reasons for false disclosures. Attorneys should also be aware that a poorly conducted evaluation can misinterpret the experience of both the child and the alleged perpetrator. Issues that should be explored with an expert witness are suggestibility and leading questions, conjoint interviews that involve both the child and the alleged perpetrator, and the interview format and assessment tools. A qualified mental health expert other than the one who has completed the evaluation can assist the attorney in a variety of ways, including the offering of an opinion as to whether the evaluation was adequate and objective. 61 notes
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Child victim interviews; Court procedures; Expert witnesses
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