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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Assembly approves Rep. McEntee and Sen. DiMario’s legislation that increases the age of children able to use recorded testimony for sexual abuse grand juries
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee and Sen. Alana M. DiMario that increases the age of children who are able to utilize recorded forensic interviews when testifying before grand juries in cases of child sexual abuse.
“The trauma experienced by victims of childhood sexual assault is heartbreaking and permanently lasting and often, recounting their assaults to authorities is equally traumatizing as it forces the victim to relive their assault in great detail. In order to ease as much pain and fear for victims as possible when they are called to testify, recorded forensic interviews have been used for younger victims. These recorded interviews protect the children from further victimization and they have proven quite successful. This bill is needed because currently, older children have been unable to utilize this practice when they are seeking justice for their abuse and that is not fair or right. In order to end and punish child sexual abuse, victims must feel comfortable enough to confront their abusers and this legislation will greatly help them achieve justice,” said Representative McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).
“These recorded forensic interviews have been successfully used for many years to help children who have suffered sexual abuse hold their abusers accountable. And we also know that the trauma inflicted from childhood sexual abuse affects each victim in a different way, regardless of circumstance or age. This bill will allow older children to have the same protections and avenues of testimony as younger children when confronting abuse in the courts and it will help ease reliving their trauma when going through the judicial process,” said Senator DiMario (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown).
The legislation (
) increases the age of children able to utilize recorded forensic interviews when testifying before grand juries in cases of child sexual abuse from 14 to 16 years old.
The video testimony will be admissible as evidence to the grand jury if the following conditions are met:
The statement is sworn to under oath by the child, and the significance of the oath is explained to the child;
The recording is both visual and aural and is recorded on film or videotape or by other electronic means;
The recording equipment was capable of making an accurate recording, the operator of the equipment was competent, and the recording is accurate and has not been altered;
Every voice on the recording is identified;
The statement was not made in response to questioning calculated to lead the child to make a particular statement;
The person conducting the interview is an attorney in the Department of the Attorney General or another person chosen by the attorney general to make the proceeding less intimidating to the child, and the interviewer is available to testify at the proceeding;
The child is available to testify if requested by the grand jurors; and
The recording is made a part of the record of the grand jury.
The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
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