Can Insufficient Scientific Evidence of Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) Overturn Convictions Retroactively?

State v. G.E.P.

Appellate Docket No.: A-4-19

Decided August 5, 2020

Submitted by New Jersey Sex Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In a recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision, the Court reviewed whether scientific evidence of Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) presented for the conviction of those accused of sex crimes against children which was later found to be insufficient scientific evidence, could overturn convictions retroactively.

In State v. G.E.P, four defendants were convicted of sex crimes against children, including first degree aggravated sexual assault, second degree sexual assault, and second degree endangering the welfare of a child.  In each of the convictions, the State presented evidence of CSAAS.

Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) includes five “preconditions” that purportedly explain behaviors exhibited by sexually abused children: secrecy; helplessness; entrapment and accommodation; delayed, conflicted, and unconvincing disclosure; and retraction.  In a 2018 decision State v. J.L.G., 234 N.J. 265, 272 (2018), the Supreme Court of New Jersey rejected CSAAS as lacking sufficiently reliable basis in science.

The defendants each appealed their convictions after J.L.G. was decided. The Appellate Division consolidated the four convictions and decided that each case was appropriate for retroactive application.  The Supreme Court reviewed the case, and decided that all but one of the cases was appropriate for retroactive application to overturn the convictions. Further, the Court allowed retroactive application to be applied to other cases as well, explaining that it would apply to about 40 cases and would not result in an unreasonable burden on the administration of justice.

If you have been charged with any first degree crime, second degree crime, third degree crime, fourth degree crime, disorderly persons offense, municipal ordinance violation, or traffic ticket/ DUI/DWI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Failing to hire a defense attorney and putting your faith in a public defender could give you the same result as the defendant in this case!

At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court and municipal court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to ensure prosecutors, police, and even judges follow the law.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us immediately. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any town in New Jersey including Absecon. Atlantic City, Brigantine, Buena Borough, Buena Vista Township, Corbin City, Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township, Estell Manor, Folsom, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, Hammonton, Linwood, Longport, Margate, Mullica Township, Northfield, Pleasantville, Port Republic, Somers Point, Ventnor, and Weymouth Township.

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Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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