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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY VS. I.B. AND A.E. IN THE MATTER OF R.B. A-2114-12T2

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY VS. I.B. AND A.E. IN THE MATTER OF R.B. 
A-2114-12T2 
The central issue in this Title Nine trial was whether a licensed psychologist retained by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency to evaluate a five-year old could offer his opinion on the nature of her reported symptoms and his diagnosis to corroborate the child's hearsay report that her father made her touch his genitals. The trial judge heard the testimony pursuant to N.J.R.E. 104 but determined to exclude it based on a line of criminal cases starting with State v. J.Q., 130 N.J. 554 (1993), in which the Supreme Court rejected the use of Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome evidence as substantive proof of child abuse. 
The State's expert in this case, however, did not offer an opinion on Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome. He testified that the child, whom he evaluated within a month of the alleged abuse, suffered from Adjustment Disorder with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct and concluded her "statements and presentation are consistent with a child who has experienced sexual abuse." We reverse and remand for the judge to consider the testimony offered by the Division's expert. We hold the psychological opinion evidence offered here is admissible to corroborate the child's allegation of abuse subject, of course, to whatever weight the judge deems appropriate to accord the testimony. 

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