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Oregon Supreme Court - July 19, 2018

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by: Rankin Johnson IV • July 20, 2018 • no comments

Summarized by Rankin Johnson, OCDLA

  • EXPERT AND SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE - Grooming

Trial court erred by admitting evidence of grooming without a proper scientific foundation. Reversed and remanded.

Defendant was accused of sexual offenses against his 11-year-old stepdaughter. During a CARES interview, the victim described massages that defendant had given her, and the CARES interviewer testified that she had been trained in ‘grooming,’ which is behavior used with a child to build trust and weaken defenses, to facilitate later abuse. The prosecutor denied that the evidence was scientific or expert evidence. Both parties discussed the grooming evidence in closing. The interviewer testified that the massages constituted grooming.

The Supreme Court held that the evidence was scientific because a jury would likely have viewed it that way, because the CARES interviewer described training and experience as pertinent, and because the behavior described was not common knowledge. in and it was not admissible without a proper foundation. The matter was remanded for a hearing on the admissibility of grooming evidence and for new trial.

J. Kistler, dissenting, argued that any error was harmless.

State v. Henley 363 Or 284 (July 19, 2018) (Nakamoto, J.)