COA affirms 5 child molesting convictions

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.