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Author Topic: Screen set up at trial nixes assault conviction (Sexual assault on minor)  (Read 1174 times)
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MuffyBee
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« on: October 24, 2008, 10:43:01 PM »

Oct 24, 6:53 PM EDT

Screen set up at trial nixes assault conviction


By NATE JENKINS
Associated Press Writer


LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- A sexual assault conviction was overturned by the Nebraska Supreme Court because of a screen that had been set up in the trial courtroom to prevent the defendant's 11-year-old accuser from having to see him when she testified.

The decision released Friday was expected to lead to a retrial of Steven Parker of Colorado Springs, Colo., who had been sentenced to 10 years to 16 years in prison after his 2006 conviction for first-degree sexual assault.

Authorities say the girl was assaulted in 2003, when she was 7. The trial judge ordered that a screen separate the girl and Parker so she could not see him while testifying. The girl's psychologist said that seeing the defendant could cause her patient to experience the trauma of the alleged abuse and a debilitating relapse of post-traumatic stress.

The high court said the separation could have suggested to the jury that the court believed the accuser, violating Parker's right to a fair trial.

The separation between the girl and Parker was visible to jurors and was a "peculiar departure" from common practice, the high court said in its opinion, written by Judge Michael McCormack.

Despite the ruling overturning Parker's conviction, prosecutors said they were encouraged by the high court's opinion. It doesn't appear to bar the use of videotaped testimony of child defendants.

The opinion appears to recognize "the need to protect children when putting them face-to-face with perpetrators could be damaging," said Sarpy County prosecutor Tricia Freeman.

Parker's attorney, Bob Creager of Lincoln, had argued that nothing should impede a face-to-face view of defendants and accusers, including videotaped testimony.

"They need to show up in court like anyone else," Creager said.

It is unclear whether the girl will be allowed to provide videotaped testimony in a retrial. Creager said that approach could prompt a court challenge to the state law that allows it.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/ASSAULT_TRIAL_SCREEN?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US
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WhiskeyGirl
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« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2008, 04:15:26 PM »

What if the child were blind?  Had on dark glasses?  Maybe a one way mirror?
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