Neb. Supreme Court overturns Sexual Assault Conviction
- From: "tiny dancer" <tinydancer357@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 26 Oct 2008 11:12:09 -0400
Would seem to me there is little difference between taped testimony and
setting up a screen. I don't think children should have to be in the same
room as their accused though. Perhaps the law should be written as such,
allowing for taped testimony of young children, to avoid such problems in
Screen set up at trial nixes assault conviction
By NATE JENKINS, Associated Press Writer Nate Jenkins, Associated Press
Writer Fri Oct 24, 6:53 pm ET
LINCOLN, Neb. - A sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Nebraska
Supreme Court because of a screen that had been set up in the trial
courtroom to prevent the defendant's 11-year-old accuser from having to see
him when she testified.
The decision released Friday was expected to lead to a retrial of Steven
Parker of Colorado Springs, Colo., who had been sentenced to 10 years to 16
years in prison after his 2006 conviction for first-degree sexual assault.
Authorities say the girl was assaulted in 2003, when she was 7. The trial
judge ordered that a screen separate the girl and Parker so she could not
see him while testifying. The girl's psychologist said that seeing the
defendant could cause her patient to experience the trauma of the alleged
abuse and a debilitating relapse of post-traumatic stress.
The high court said the separation could have suggested to the jury that the
court believed the accuser, violating Parker's right to a fair trial.
The separation between the girl and Parker was visible to jurors and was a
"peculiar departure" from common practice, the high court said in its
opinion, written by Judge Michael McCormack.
Despite the ruling overturning Parker's conviction, prosecutors said they
were encouraged by the high court's opinion. It doesn't appear to bar the
use of videotaped testimony of child defendants.
The opinion appears to recognize "the need to protect children when putting
them face-to-face with perpetrators could be damaging," said Sarpy County
prosecutor Tricia Freeman.
Parker's attorney, Bob Creager of Lincoln, had argued that nothing should
impede a face-to-face view of defendants and accusers, including videotaped
"They need to show up in court like anyone else," Creager said.
It is unclear whether the girl will be allowed to provide videotaped
testimony in a retrial. Creager said that approach could prompt a court
challenge to the state law that allows it.
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