ABDALLA CASE UNDERSCORES GRAVITY OF CHILD VICTIM HEARSAY
By: Dean Tong, MSc
June 9, 2012
Within the dynamic of a divorce and/or child custody battle, it’s known as The Atomic Bomb – The Ultimate Weapon. Clearly, if the mere allegation (outcry or disclosure) of child sexual abuse was part of a tennis match, advantage child. A child’s hearsay, or out-of-court statement, of for example, an allegation of abuse, can be legally admissible in any civil or criminal court proceeding so long as the fact-finder or judge deems it contains an indicia of reliability and an inherent degree of trustworthiness.
Hany Abdalla’s world came to a shrieking halt a few months ago when he was working as a teacher’s aide in New York’s upper west side. On April 25, police arrested Abdalla at his Queens apartment on allegations he sexually abused an 8 year-old special education student. Although the District Attorney’s office elected to not formally charge and prosecute Abdalla, the New York Education Department suspended him from his teacher’s aide position without pay. And while the investigation into the child’s allegations against Abdalla continues, how does he support his family including his own kids?
Unlike the case of Michael G. here, the Abdalla case, ostensibly, does not possess one scintilla of independent corroboration outside of the complaining witness’ outcry. And while 8 years-old happens to be the age of reason whereby a child is supposed to understand and know right from wrong, truth from lie, and good touches from bad touches from secret touches, all kids are individualistic and different. And let’s not forget the complaining witness is a special education student.
Children as young as 3 years-old can report salient details of molestation and be accurate, reliable reporters. And children of the same age can also be incompetent and cognitively challenged, and inaccurate, unreliable reporters. We have a legal and moral obligation to protect children-at-risk, and in harms way of abuse. But the old adage ‘children do not lie or are not mistaken about sexual abuse” is absolute poppycock. There are a plethora of scientific studies that have concluded children who talk about sexual, bodily touches with adults are mistaken. Monster in a box, mousetrap, genital conditioning and Mr. Science are some such studies.
More times than not young children are not properly evaluated to glean if they suffer from reality monitoring issues. More times than not child protective investigators and other court appointed fiduciaries do not exhaust alternative hypotheses for why kids say what they say, and commit source monitoring errors. More times than not forensic child interview “specialists” employ improper and unsound methodologies and further taint and contaminate child witnesses. The 64K question is in the Hany Abdalla case – Who is going to compensate Mr. Abdalla for the pain and suffering and false child sexual abuse allegation he fell victim to?
[Disclaimer: Dean Tong is not an attorney. He is not licensed to give legal advice and nothing herein should be construed to be legal advice. If you need legal assistance please consult with an attorney in your area by checking here.]