Willamette Law Online

Oregon Court of Appeals


State v. Wedel

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 08-10-2011
Case #: A143259
Brewer, C.J. for the court; & Gillette, S.J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/A143259.pdf

Civil Procedure: The admission of evidence of a diagnosis of child sexual abuse in the absence of physical evidence is plain error.

Defendant Wedel was charged with sexually abusing his granddaughter. The state offered evidence of a diagnosis of child sexual abuse by an expert without the support of any physical evidence. Defendant asserted that this was plain error and that his conviction should be reversed. The state argued the error was harmless because the jury acquitted the defendant on some of the charges and therefore was not prejudiced by the testimony of the expert. The Court of Appeals rejected this argument citing State v. Lovern, 513 P.3d 688 (Or. App. 2010), where the court held that admission of a diagnosis of child abuse may lead the jury to draw their conclusions based upon the expert’s opinion rather than relying on the credibility of the victim. The Court held that the admission of the evidence in this case was plain error. Reversed and remanded.