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State v. White

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-17-2012
Case #: A146936
Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Brewer, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A146936.pdf

Evidence: Expert testimony regarding delayed reporting of sexual abuse by a child is relevant to explain why there was a delay in reporting by complainant and to counter a possible argument that the delay indicates a fabrication.

The State appealed a trial court decision to exclude expert testimony regarding delayed reporting of abuse. Defendant was charged with first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree criminal mistreatment, unlawful use of a weapon, and strangulation. During trial, the court excluded expert testimony regarding delayed reporting of abuse. The court reasoned that this testimony was not relevant because Defendant did not plan to impeach the complainant’s credibility for delayed reporting of abuse and expert testimony regarding delayed reporting was only relevant as rebuttal evidence. The State appealed the trial courts’ ruling, arguing that expert testimony can explain reasons for delayed reporting and it counters a possible argument from the defense that the delay in reporting means the abuse did not occur. The Court of Appeals found that a delay in reporting abuse is an inherent weakness in the State’s case, making it relevant for the State to address it. Reversed and remanded.