Abstract

The legal debate over statutes which allow special treatment for child witnesses of sexual abuse has sparked recent discussion. These statutes permit the testimony of the children to be videotaped or transmitted via one-or two-way closed circuit television into the courtroom. Critics argue these statutes violate the defendant's Sixth Amendment Confrontation Right -to be confronted by the witnesses against him/her. Supporters feel these measures are necessary to protect the interests of young victims of sexual abuse. The goal of this paper is to address the tension between society's interest in protecting child victims and the right of defendants to confront witnessed against them, discussing statutes, cases, and arguments concerning this issue. The paper begins by introducing the problem of child sexual abuse, including the factors which contribute to the problem of under-reporting and the difficulties of prosecuting child sexual abuse cases. The next section, Statutory Comparison, presents the response of many state legislatures -various child protection statutes that permit modification of courtroom procedure in sexual abuse cases. The third section examines the cases which occurred as a result of these statutes, including two main Supreme Court cases -Coy v. Iowa and Maryland v. Craig. The arguments on both sides of this issue are then presented. Finally, the conclusion evaluates the current standing of the issue, realizing that this is an unsettled issue which is likely to continue to change and spark future debate.

Disciplines

Law | Political Science

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