Joe came to our offices looking for help when he was wrongfully accused of sexual assault. When Joe was about 16 years old, his younger cousin accused him of sexual assault that she said had happened several years earlier, when Joe was just twelve and she was nine years old. It was alleged that Joe assaulted his cousin on different dates over the course of a year while he was visiting on weekends at her family’s home. Joe was charged with six counts of forcible rape of a child and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen.
Joe had stayed over at his aunt and uncle’s home a number of times over the course of months, when the alleged victim told her parents that Joe had been telling her about sexual acts. However, she did not disclose any abuse. Joe was then kept away from the alleged victim and not allowed to return. Not until 3 ½ years later did the alleged victim disclose any accusations of abuse.
Joe was adamant that his cousin was lying and there was some indication that she had a history that might support this. Our defense strategy was to attack the late reporting of the alleged assaults, the lack of physical evidence, the lack of other corroborating witnesses, multiple inconsistencies in the story of the alleged victim, and the victim’s propensity for being untruthful.
Using the Lampron-Dwyer protocol we were able to obtain and review records from the alleged victim’s treating doctors, including a psychological treatment. When we went to trial at Lowell Juvenile Court, these records were used to establish inconsistencies in the victim’s story concerning the alleged abuse, the victim’s propensity to lie and demands to be the center of attention. This was corroborated by a guidance counselor from the victim’s school, who was called by the defense to give reputation evidence concerning the victim.
The Commonwealth utilized a psychological expert to discuss delayed disclosure among juvenile sexual assault victims. I was able to effectively cross examine this expert by reviewing all of her relevant writings to establish that the research in this area was inconclusive, juvenile victims do sometimes lie about sexual abuse, and that adults are more prone to believe an event actually occurred when falsely reported by a juvenile.
The jury acquitted Joe on all counts. The false accusations – even as a juvenile – could have had a devastating effect on the rest of Joe’s life. By reaching out to us for help, we were able to help Joe protect his reputation and maintain his clean record.
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