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Video tape questioning seldom used in child sex crimes cases

5:47 PM, Jun 26, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida law allows prosecutors to use technology when examining young victims of sex crimes so they don't have to be in the courtroom with the defendant.

Locally, the use of video tape examinations and closed circuit questioning is seldom used.

"The system needs to say to the parents, 'we have other ways to do this and make it easier for your child,'" said Jay Howell, a former prosecutor.

Howell, who helped found the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children makes it his business to be an advocate for children who are victims of sex crimes.

He said technology has been around for years and said it is an effective tool, especially since it is tough on young children to testify in open court with the defendant in the courtroom.

"If they would work with the child and use these tools, it would be a whole lot easier for kids to do what is obviously a difficult task," said Howell from his law office in Arlington.

Assistant State Attorney Alan Mizrahi, who heads up the Special Assault Division, said technology does not replace impact of a child testifying in the courtroom.

Mizrahi pointed out the appeals courts have had problems with closed circuit examinations that separate the victim from the defendant. By both not being in the same courtroom, he said higher courts have found closed circuit examinations of the victim "prejudicial" against the defendant.

Another burden, he said, is convincing the court that the child would suffer "moderate harm" if testifying in the courtroom with the defendant nearby.

First Coast News

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