The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a Tippecanoe County, Indiana man’s conviction for child molesting, because the trial court improperly admitted a forensic video statement of the alleged victim. In child molesting cases, it is routine for police to have the accuser participate in a forensic interview and describe the allegations. The interview is commonly conducted by an investigator from the prosecutor’s office, and is designed to elicit evidence to use in a child molesting prosecution. The accuser’s statements are not made under oath or challenged by cross-examination.
Indiana law allows these videos to be admitted at trial, only when a psychiatrist or other medical expert testifies at a hearing that the accuser will suffer serious emotional harm by testifying at trial. In the Tippecanoe County child molesting trial referenced above, a forensic videotaped interview was admitted into evidence with no finding that the accuser would suffer harm by testifying. The defendant was found guilty at trial, based on evidence solely from the video. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the conviction.