APSAC has filed an amicus brief in the New Jersey Supreme Court arguing that the state’s trial courts should admit testimony regarding sexual abuse accommodation syndrome (SAAS). The case, New Jersey v. J.L.G., arose in Hudson County. The defendant was criminally charged with sexually assaulting his stepdaughter over 18 months beginning when she was 14 years old. The defendant asserted that the fact that the child did not disclose the sexual abuse immediately called into question the credibility of her allegations. The prosecution sought to admit expert testimony about SAAS to rebut this claim and to explain that some children delay disclosing sexual abuse, deny it took place when it in fact did, and sometimes recant allegations. The defendant challenged the admission of this testimony. The New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the trial court to hold a hearing to determine, applying the test of Frey v. United States, whether testimony regarding SAAS is sufficiently reliable to admit into evidence.
In June, APSAC filed an amicus brief in the Hudson County court supporting admission of the testimony, not to determine whether sexual abuse took place, but for the limited purposes of explaining that some children delay disclosing, deny, or recant. After a week-long evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the admission of the testimony.
The case in now back before the New Jersey Supreme Court and APSAC is again advocating for the admission of the SAAS testimony in this brief.
APSAC’s brief was written by Jeremy A. Lawrence of Munger, Tolles & Olsen in San Francisco. APSAC wants to thank him, Jerome C. Roth, also of Munger, Tolles & Olsen, and Theo Mackey Pollack of West Orange, New Jersey, our local counsel, for their support of our efforts in this case.
Download the full brief below: