Friday, October 10, 2008

Child Sexual Abuse Accomodation Syndrome Testimony Admissible Without Frye Hearing

In People v Bassett (2008 NY Slip Op 07729 [10/3/08]) the Fourth Department held that there was no error in allowing the People to present the testimony of a witness concerning child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome (CSAAS) without first conducting a Frye hearing.
With respect to the merits of defendant's contention that a Frye hearing was required, it is well settled that expert testimony concerning CSAAS is admissible to assist the jury in understanding the unusual conduct of victims of child sexual abuse provided that, as here, the testimony is general in nature and does "not attempt to impermissibly prove that the charged crimes occurred" (People v Carroll, 95 NY2d 375, 387; see People v Gillard, 7 AD3d 540, lv denied 3 NY3d 659; People v Doherty, 305 AD2d 867, 868, lv denied 100 NY2d 580; People v Miles, 294 AD2d 930, lv denied 98 NY2d 678), and a "Frye hearing was unnecessary [in this case] because the expert's testimony did not involve novel scientific evidence" (People v Middlebrooks, 300 AD2d 1142, 1143, lv denied 99 NY2d 630).

Perhaps a reader can inform us how CSAAS became so clearly established that admissibility of testimony about is beyond question. Where are the peer reviewed studies?
The Court also rejected defendant's contention that defense counsel was ineffective in failing to conduct an adequate cross-examination of the People's expert witness and to challenge his qualifications or familiarity with CSAAS.

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