Validation Testimony in New York

In Matter of Eli v. Eli, 159 Misc. 2d 974 (1993), the Family Court, New York County, described at length, the purpose and the limitations of so-called "validation" testimony: "The most common type of expert testimony received in child sexual abuse cases is what is known as validation testimony. That term, although now generally accepted, is misleading. The "validator" validates nothing. Validation testimony is no more than expert psychological evidence of a child's mental illness or unusual behavioral manifestation, which would be consistent with sexual abuse. It would be far more accurate for the Court's purposes to refer to these witnesses as corroborators rather than validators, because the latter term implies approval of the genuineness of the child's claim, not merely recognition of consistency with a certain behavioral pattern. While, in a treatment context, a validator is required to make a determination whether he or she believes the allegations, the determination is made based upon objective observations measured against concrete guide- lines; the purpose of the validation process is to aid in clinical decisions for the purpose of intervention and therapy. The validator as witness does not give a personal opinion as to whether the abuse occurred. This witness relates the behavioral indicators observed in the child to those recognized as displayed by children who have been sexually abused. It is for the judge to decide whether the abuse occurred."