Expert Witnesses Testify in Child Sexual Abuse Jury Trial

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By Ankita Joshi

ALAMEDA, CA – The jury trial for a man who allegedly sexually abused his younger sister for years continued Monday in Alameda County Superior Court with the testimonies of expert witnesses.

NOTE: The Vanguard will not identify the defendant or victim for confidentiality reasons.

Most of the testimonies provided served to establish whether these professionals in their fields would be able to be qualified as experts for the trial.

Some of the topics that were expanded upon included misconceptions about child sexual abuse and the relationship between the victim and their abuser, misconceptions about the child’s behavior and signs of abuse, and false allegations.

Many of the questions directed towards these experts took source from the victim’s previous testimony on everything she had experienced during the years she had been sexually assaulted.

The victim had noted in her testimony that she continued to spend time with her brother and his family during the time period she was abused, accepted money from him, refused to tell anyone about what had been happening to her until about five years of abuse, and met up with her brother after she had filed a police report against him.

Much of this would be under scrutiny by the prosecution in regards to how valid the victim’s testimony about her abuse would be. So, it was left up to expert witnesses to help lay a foundation of what is typical and not with child victims of sexual abuse and the behaviors they demonstrate.

One testimony by Dr. Blake D. Carmichael, mental health therapist at University of California, Davis and expert in the area of child sexual abuse and trauma. He outlined how the sexual abuse of a child extends further than just the abuse, and involves the relationship between the victim and abuser.

He noted, “It’s not just a physical act of being touched or the abuse itself. It’s how the child experiences the abuse within the relationship they have with the perpetrator. The caring, loving person that they trust. And also the family surrounding them. Understanding that ‘Hey, that person cares about this child. I would never expect them to do something to hurt that child.’”

As noted in the victim’s testimony, the abuse had started shortly after their father had died, and the victim’s mother had entrusted the defendant to take the victim to her therapist appointments.

Also when asked about whether she felt like she had a choice, the victim had stated that she felt like she protected her mother from the truth about her making the biggest mistake of her life.

Carmichael continued by exploring the concept of secrecy within sexual abuse, and the misconception that parents would know that it was occurring.

It was noted that a child might enjoy certain parts of the relationship that they have with their abuser, which would push them to continue their relationship with them.

The victim had also stated in her previous testimony that she would go over to the defendant’s house to spend time with other family members, such as her nieces, but would end up getting assaulted by the accused.

Another expert witness that was called also explored the topic of false allegations, and had noted that he had never filed a report with Child Protective Services that had ended up being false.

The trial is ongoing.

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About The Author

Ankita Joshi is a second-year student at the University of San Francisco, pursuing a major in International Studies and a minor in Political Science. She is originally from Sacramento, CA.

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