State v. Vidal

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Evidence
  • Date Filed: 09-21-2011
  • Case #: A142579
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, C.J. for the Court; Haselton, P.J.; & Armstron, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

An expert diagnosis of child sexual abuse is not admissible as evidence in the absence of other physical evidence of abuse.

Defendant appealed his convictions for rape, unlawful sexual penetration, and sodomy on the grounds that the trial court committed plain error by admitting expert medical testimony concerning diagnosis of sexual abuse. Victim was interviewed and physically examined by an expert in child sexual abuse, who concluded that the victim had been sexually assaulted. At trial the expert identified four factors in making her diagnosis; victim’s history, the physical examination, factors that increase risk of abuse, and the victim’s detailed statement. The Court of Appeals stated that where medical diagnosis does not tell the jury anything that it cannot determine for itself, there is a great risk of prejudice because a medical diagnosis comes from a credentialed expert and scientific reliability. Therefore a diagnosis of sexual abuse is inadmissible where there is no other evidence of physical abuse. However, because in this case there was other evidence indicating physical abuse, the trial court did not err in admitting the expert testimony. Affirmed.

Advanced Search