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Judge: consider corroborative evidence in certain molestation cases

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Indiana Court of Appeals Judge John Baker thinks it’s time that corroborative evidence be required in child molestation cases in which the charges are supported by the testimony of a single witness.

Baker dissented from his colleagues in Erasmo Leyva, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 02A03-1111-CR-535, because he believed that the victim’s testimony was incredibly dubious. A.L., who was 11 at the time, accused her father of placing his fingers inside her vagina during a visit to her father’s home. A.L. and her brother were at Erasmo Leyva’s home to celebrate Easter and their birthdays. When her stepmother, brother, and half-sibling were all asleep in the living room after watching a movie, A.L. said that her father molested her.

She intended to call her mother, but couldn’t immediately find a phone. She informed her mother of the alleged molestation when she arrived home the next day. A.L. said this was the only time her father had ever molested her.

The Court of Appeals upheld Leyva’s Class A felony child molesting conviction, rejecting his claim that his daughter’s testimony was incredibly dubious. He argued she had reasons to lie about the incident – A.L. was upset because her birthday party was being held on her brother’s birthday; she didn’t get a new cell phone for her birthday; and she was angry that her brother took her spot during the movie.

Baker, however, pointed to the multiple times in A.L.’s testimony in which she couldn’t remember many events and circumstances during the weekend of the alleged incident and couldn’t remember the events that didn’t reflect positively on her, like her anger toward her brother.

He also found the circumstances around the alleged molestation to run “counter to the human experience,” and she had a motive to fabricate. Baker then explained why courts should consider requiring corroborative evidence in these types of cases, citing cases from other jurisdictions.

“With the advent of modern technology, including DNA testing and analysis, it is not unreasonable to require some form of corroborating evidence before convicting a defendant when the sole witness is the victim,” he wrote. “This is especially true when the defendant has been accused of child molesting and similar offenses, insofar as if convicted, he will not only be sentenced accordingly, but also subject to certain registry and residency restrictions.”


 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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