In a decision released on August 6, 2013, the Connecticut Supreme Court has upheld a criminal conviction of a child sex predator. The defendant in the case, State v. Stephen, J.R., appealed his conviction of sixteen counts of sexual assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a minor claiming the testimony of his child victim was too “generic” and “non-specific” to allow for a conviction on multiple counts. The child had testified at trial that the defendant had sexually assaulted her “three or four times” and it was “always the same thing”. During a previous clinical child interview at the Aetna Foundation Children’s Center at St. Francis Hospital, the child testified that the sexual assaults occurred “five to six times”. On appeal, the defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he abused the child on four separate and distinct occasions.
Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Andrew McDonald wrote that sometimes “testimony from a child victim describing a series of indistinguishable acts by an abuser who has ongoing access to the child is often the only evidence that the child is able to provide.” Judge McDonald also reiterated this state’s long held view that our courts “will not impose a degree of certitude as to date, time and place that will render prosecutions of those who sexually abuse children impossible. To do so would have us establish, by judicial fiat, a class of crimes committable with impunity”. The court upheld the convictions of the defendant.
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