Questioning by An Adult Friend In a Sexual Abuse of a Minor Cases
Can Evidence In a Case Involving Sexual Abuse of a Young Child Be Admitted If Complaint Was Made In Response to Questioning by An Adult Friend ?
In People v. Brown (1994) 8 Cal.4th 746, 748, the Supreme Court applied the rule in a case involving sexual abuse of a young child despite the fact the complaint was not reported promptly and was made in response to questioning by an adult friend.
The court announced a revised rule, concluding that "under principles generally applicable to the determination of evidentiary relevance and admissibility, proof of an extrajudicial complaint, made by the victim of a sexual offense, disclosing the alleged assault, may be admissible for a limited, nonhearsay purpose -- namely, to establish the fact of, and the circumstances surrounding, the victim's disclosure of the assault to others -- whenever the fact that the disclosure was made and the circumstances under which it was made are relevant to the trier of fact's determination as to whether the offense occurred." ( Id. at pp. 749-750).
The court emphasized that in a case "in which the victim testifies to a series of alleged sexual offenses over a considerable period of time, during which the victim had the opportunity to disclose the alleged offenses to others but failed to do so, the exclusion of all evidence relating to the context in which the victim ultimately disclosed the alleged offenses to others is likely to leave the jury with an incomplete or erroneous understanding of the victim's behavior.
So long as the evidence that is admitted is carefully limited to the fact that a complaint was made, and to the circumstances surrounding the making of the complaint, thereby eliminating or at least minimizing the risk that the jury will rely upon the evidence for an impermissible hearsay purpose, admission of such relevant evidence should assist in enlightening the jury without improperly prejudicing the defendant." ( People v. Brown, supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 762.)