RECOMMENDATION 79

Part: 
Three
Chapter: 
3

Public and private social service agencies should participate in a task force of multidisciplinary practitioners and develop a protocol for courtroom procedures for child witnesses that would meet constitutional standards.

Public and private social service agencies should lend their expertise to help develop appropriate courtroom procedures. Many of these guidelines should focus on the development of therapy programs for child victims.

In California, a group of preschool children was allegedly molested and photographed by teachers at the Children's Path preschool.[673] Physicians found conclusive medical evidence that fifteen of the children were sexually abused.[674] A two-year-old reported to her parents instances of controlled substance abuse, sodomy, and oral copulation. She also stated that photographs were taken.[675] Since the time the child told her parents of this situation, she has been receiving psychotherapy on a weekly basis. Her parents have also sought therapy.[676] None of the offenders were brought to trial because their victims were too young to be competent witnesses in court.[677]

Social services agencies should develop guidelines to assist child witnesses in the courtroom.[678] The programs which result may take the form of an advocate to assist the child through the judicial process. This person would be assigned to the child and would be concerned only with the welfare of the child rather than a particular judicial outcome.

Notes

  1. Miami Hearing, Vol. I, Laura Brennan, p. 93.
  2. Id., p. 95.
  3. Id., pp. 93-94.
  4. Id., p. 94.
  5. Id., p. 95.
  6. For a more complete discussion see, Recommendations for Prosecutors in this Chapter.