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COA affirms 5 child molesting convictions

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The admission of testimony by a licensed clinical psychologist at a man’s child molestation trial in Steuben County was not a fundamental error, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

David E. Lyons appealed his five convictions of Class A felony child molesting related to incidents with his niece in 2004 through 2006 when the girl was around 10 years old. In 2010, after developing a number of emotional problems, K.F. told nurses at a hospital that her uncle had been molesting her.

At Lyons’ jury trial in 2011, Dr. Judith Williams, a licensed clinical psychologist with extensive experience counseling child victims of sexual abuse, testified on behalf of the state. While she had counseled K.F. for a short period of time, her testimony was not specifically related to K.F.’s treatment and, instead, was about general characteristics, mannerisms, and behaviors common among child abuse victims.

Lyons only objected once to part of her testimony, so on appeal, he brought a fundamental error challenge. He claimed that his convictions should be reversed because Williams based her responses on speculation.

In David E. Lyons v. State of Indiana, 76A03-1112-CR-582, the judges found Lyons mistakenly contended that Williams’ testimony was “scientific testimony” and is governed by Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993).  However, Williams’ testimony was actually “specialized knowledge,” under Ind. Evidence Rule 702(a), and any weakness or problems in the testimony only go to the weight of the testimony, not to its admissibility.

Williams’ testimony was about matters commonly observed in sexual abuse victims based on her own practice and in psychological literature. Lyons was free to cross-examine her regarding studies she cited, but did not, Judge John Baker wrote.

The judges also disagreed with Lyons’ assertion that the admission of Williams’ testimony violates the principles set forth in Steward v. State, 652 N.E.2d 490 (Ind. 1995). Admission of her testimony was not a fundamental error, and Lyons’ convictions and 150-year sentence is affirmed.

 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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