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Sexual Abuse Victim Allowed to Testify Via Closed Circuit Television

Picture of a sleeping child

In a case before Judge Hettleman, sitting in the Family Court of Bronx County, ACS brought an application alleging David T. had sexually abused his daughter, Monica, who is currently 21 years of age. They claimed the sexual abuse took place when she was under 18 years of age.

Second Child Not Involved In Case

Monica was not the subject to this proceeding. She simply wasn’t involved. ACS had alleged the sexual abuse of Monica amounted to a derivative sexual abuse of a 12 year old child R.T. Monica had made the court aware she was prepared to testify if her father was not present. However, she advised the court she was uncomfortable testifying against him if he was in court. Therefore, she would decline to testify if her father was in court.

Monica’s attorney brought an application requesting that she be allowed to testify through closed circuit television. This would take place out of her father’s presence. The attorney representing R.T. by ACS and the mother’s attorney joined in the application for testimony by Monica via closed circuit television. The father opposed.

Trauma If Witness Forced to Testify in Court

Attorney Elliot SchlisselJudge Robert Hettleman noted: “There is no statute represented in the State of New York that permits the Family Court to allow testimony used closed circuit television. However, Judge Hettleman did note that decisions of Appellate Courts routinely allowed some infringement on a defendant’s rights to be present in a court room during the course of a trial. He therefore ruled under the circumstances, in this case, the father’s presence would be a significant factor which would impact on Monica’s ability to testify. He also noted there was an affidavit submitted by a Dr. Sydor which brought to the court’s attention that Monica would most likely suffer significant emotional trauma if she was forced to testify when her father was present in the court. Judge Hettleman therefore granted the application to allow Monica to testify through closed circuit television.

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