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Court of Appeals — Sex Abuse: People v. Diaz

New York State Court of Appeals

Sex Abuse

Expert Testimony Mirroring that of the Complainant — Defense Witness

People v. Diaz
No. 52
Judge Pigott

Background: The defendant, the step-grandfather of the complainant, was charged with sexual conduct against a child in the first and second degree. The complainant had testified that while she was living with the defendant, the defendant abused her while her mother was at work. During the examination of a psychologist with an expertise in child sexual abuse, defense counsel objected to the expert’s testimony as it mirrored that of the complainant. Defense counsel tried to have the younger brother’s biological father testify to the complainant’s prior allegations of sexual abuse against him, but was disallowed by the court.

Ruling: The Court of Appeals held that the complainant’s younger brother’s biological father’s testimony ought to have been admitted. It went to a material issue of the defendant’s defense. The Court of Appeals, however, found that, while the psychologist’s testimony mirrored the testimony of the complainant, the psychologist spoke of child abusers’ behavior in sufficiently general ways.

Ruth E. Ross for the appellant; Anna Pervukhin for the respondent