26 QLR 497 (2007-2008)
Expert Testimony on Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome: How Proper Screening Should Severely Limit Its Admission

handle is hein.journals/qlr26 and id is 507 raw text is: Note

EXPERT TESTIMONY ON CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
ACCOMMODATION SYNDROME: How PROPER SCREENING
SHOULD SEVERELY LIMIT ITS ADMISSION
1. INTRODUCTION
Expert testimony on the subject of Child Sexual Abuse
Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) occupies an uncertain evidentiary
status. The syndrome was formulated with the intention of explaining
the typical behavior patterns of sexually abused children. According to
the CSAAS framework, the typical sexually abused child progresses
through five distinct stages of behavior, from secrecy to helplessness to
accommodation to delayed/conflicted disclosure to retraction.
CSAAS testimony is often used as a tool in the prosecution of child
sexual abuse cases. Expert testimony on the subject is permitted for a
range of uses in courts, depending on the jurisdiction. No courts permit
CSAAS evidence as substantive proof that abuse has occurred. Expert
testimony on the subject, however, is often admitted as relevant to the
victim's credibility. Experts are permitted to invoke CSAAS in varying
degrees of specificity to explain that a witness's behaviors are consistent
(or, not inconsistent) with having been abused. Therefore, contrary to
possible misconceptions that jurors may hold about behaviors such as
delayed disclosure or recantation, the credibility of a victim who exhibits
these behaviors is not necessarily undermined.
There are considerable risks associated with the admission of expert
testimony about CSAAS in child sexual abuse cases. The evidentiary
principles governing the admission of expert testimony require that the
testimony be based on reliable theories or techniques, helpful to the trier
of fact, and relevant to the circumstances of the case. In addition, like
all other evidence, the probative value of the testimony must not be
substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect.

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