COA vacates protective order based on hearsay

November 30, 2015

A protective order against a family member who police accused of sexual abuse against a child was lifted by the Indiana Court of Appeals Monday.

Anna Wood is a half-sister to the father of D.W.  Rhonda Wood, D.W.’s mother, sought a protective order against Anna Wood that was granted in Hamilton County. However, the appellate panel concluded the court abused its discretion in issuing the order.

The court improperly relied on hearsay evidence from D.W.’s nanny, who testified that when she picked up the 7-year-old boy from school, he told her Wood had touched his penis. A Carmel police detective also testified that she believed the child was being truthful in alleging sexual abuse.

“D.W.’s statement and Detective (Sarah) Harris’s opinion were the only probative evidence that Anna committed a sexual offense/domestic violence against D.W. Consequently, the trial court’s erroneous admission of this evidence affected Anna’s substantial rights and cannot be considered harmless. Therefore, we reverse and remand with instructions to vacate the protective order against Anna,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the panel.

The case is Anna Wood v. D.W., Minor Child, by next friend, Rhonda Wood, 29A02-1507-PO-856.



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