Volume 45, Issue 3 (May 2000)
On the Assessment of Children in Suspected Child Sexual Abuse in Light of Daubert and Frye: Limitations of Profiles and Interviews as Scientifically Grounded Evidence
Practice with children and families entails the higher probability of encountering forensic issues of child sexual abuse (CSA) assessments for which relatively few psychologists, allied mental health and legal practitioners are sufficiently well equipped. The current paper reviews some of the key psycholegal issues bearing on the assessment of suspected CSA in the contexts of: (a) recent psycholegal precedence and common law rules of reliability and admissibility of CSA profile evidence; (b) the empirical problems with CSA syndromes; and (c) the problems with children's interviews as evidence, and suggestions for valid interviewing guidelines supporting free recall. These psycholegal issues are presented in terms of the Frye standard for expert testimony and the Federal Rules of Evidence, with recent American and Canadian case illustrations, such as Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Hadden v. State of Florida (1997), Bighead v. The United States of America (1997), Diocese of Winona v. Interstate Fire & Cas. Co. (1994), and R. v. Simpson (1996).