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Hearsay Testimony: Protecting the Needs of Children at the Expense of the Defendant's Right to a Fair Trial

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice Volume: 7 Issue: 1 Dated: 2007 Pages: 59-66
Andre Kehn B.S.; Jennifer M. Gray B.A.; Narina L. Nunez Ph.D.
Date Published
8 pages
This paper argues that the use of hearsay testimony, in its current format, should be inadmissible in cases of child sexual abuse due to its violating the defendants’ sixth amendment right to confront their accuser.
Hearsay testimony occurs when an out-of-court statement is made by the witness and retold in court by another person. Hearsay testimony is heard in cases of child sexual abuse. Allowing hearsay testimony in child sexual abuse cases may spare children from the stress of testifying and facing their abuser in court. However, given the difficulties that interviewers may have in remembering details of their interviews, and the influence that later “gist” (essence) testimonies have on jurors, hearsay testimony should be carefully used and limited. The only way to reconcile the needs of the child without violating the rights of the defendant is to encourage interviewers to audiotape and/or videotape their original interviews with children in its totality. The taped pretrial interviews are still considered hearsay, but they may be the most “trustworthy” representation of a child’s description of an abusive event. References


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