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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 99109 Find in a Library
Title: Sexually Abused Infant Hearsay Exception - A Constitutional Analysis
Journal: Journal of Juvenile Law  Volume:8  Issue:1  Dated:(1984)  Pages:59-73
Author(s): Anonymous
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 15
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article demonstrates that the hearsay exception, designed to ease the burden upon the child sexual abuse victim-witness and to make the proof of abuse less arduous, is not inconsistent with the confrontation rights of the accused child molester.
Abstract: Washington, Colorado, and Utah recently have enacted statutes that allow out-of-court statements by a child abuse victim to be admitted as substantive evidence under certain conditions. In general, these hearsay exceptions have been modeled after Federal residual exceptions and contain provisions to ensure the trustworthiness and necessity of admitted statements. The Roberts standard controls admissibility when the declarant is unavailable. Using this standard, the courts have determined that admission of unavailable child victim spontaneous declarations, complaints of rape, and statements of physical condition to an examining physician are admissible. Moreover, the child's incompetence or refusal to answer questions when on the stand does not preclude such admission and can be considered equivalent to legal unavailability. Because these child sexual abuse victim hearsay exceptions are modeled on Federal exceptions, they would appear able to withstand attack based upon alleged violations of the confrontation rights of criminal defendants. Even if the similarity of the trustworthiness guarantees between these exceptions is deemed insufficiently probative, the infant exception would be able to withstand a direct Roberts analysis for admissibility. Because child sexual abuse has become nearly epidemic and probative difficulties make felony convictions and imprisonment the exception rather than the norm, these special hearsay exceptions are needed to make admissible what often is the only evidence of the act or its perpetrator's identity. A total of 94 footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Child Sexual Abuse; Colorado; Hearsay evidence; Right to confront witnesses; Rules of evidence; Utah; Victim-witness legislation; Washington
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