Child Abuse Allegations: What Every Attorney Should Know

Child Abuse Allegations: What Every Attorney Should Know

This web resource is an effort to better equip an attorney to challenge counterintuitive testimony regarding child sexual abuse claims. This can be done in 1) a motion to suppress / limit, 2) a Daubert hearing, or 3) during cross-examination in the trial phase (or all three). 


The different sections are designed to be read independent of each other. This allows the reader to focus on the strategies and topics that are of most interest. To that end, there are quotes, research sources, etc. that are repeated in different sections.  Expect some repetition as you read. Each topic you click on begins with a short summary and observations. This is followed by a “deep dive” into the topic with detail and citations. Be sure to read the articles in “Basics of Scientific Research”. Many of the arguments challenging the counterintuitive expert are going to draw from an understanding of these scientific principles. 


There is a critical balance to bear in mind. Much of child sexual abuse testimony can be legitimate and apply to victims who have truly been sexually assaulted. But there is a tendency for counterintuitive experts to overstate the science and make claims that cannot be backed up by research.  This excess, without a humble recognition of limits, is where problems arise.  This author has testified numerous times for prosecution and defense regarding victim behaviors. This project isn’t about the elimination of informed or cold testimony. It is about finding a healthy balance in professional testimony and how to best assist the trier-of-fact. 


A special note about this resource’s repeated references to Dr. Wendy Dutton. For more than two decades Dr. Dutton has provided counterintuitive / cold expert testimony in thousands of Arizona trials involving claims of CSA. She has also helped train the next generation of counterintuitive experts. During my seminars in 2013 the defense attorneys in Pima and Maricopa counties had a keen interest in how to best address Dr. Dutton’s testimony during cross. In my subsequent trainings for the Air Force and Marine Corps I have removed reference to her. But for this Arizona resource I have reintroduced her material because of its relevance. 


Fair warning. I am not an attorney and I don’t desire to be one. I love the discipline of forensic psychology – the scientific study of human thought and behavior in a legal context. COUNTERING Counterintuitive Testimony (Children) isn’t a tutorial on how to apply the law. It’s a scientist explaining some of the principles and findings in science that you might want to consider. My goal is to make you aware of a number of topics. Then you can choose what actually fit the facts of your case and how to best apply them.

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