Review Whether Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) Was Grounds for A New Trial

State v. S.G.

Appellate Docket No.: A-5627-16

Decided May 6, 2021

Submitted by New Jersey Sex Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark

In a recent unpublished opinion, the New Jersey Appellate Division reviewed whether scientific evidence of Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) presented for the conviction of defendant for sex crimes against children was grounds for a new trial, as CSAAS has been found to be unreliable by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

In State v. S.G., following a jury trial, defendant S.G. was convicted of first-degree aggravated sexual assault of a victim (B.C.) under the age of thirteen, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)(1); second-degree sexual assault of a victim (B.C.) over the age of thirteen by an actor who was four or more years older than the victim, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(b); third-degree endangering, abuse, neglect, or sexual act by a noncaretaker (B.C.), N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a); fourth-degree sexual assault of a minor under the age of sixteen but over the age of thirteen by a defendant four or more years older than the minor (A.E.), N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c)(4); third-degree endangering, abuse, neglect, or sexual act by a non-caretaker (A.E.), N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a); fourth-degree criminal sexual contact, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3(b), with a victim between the ages of thirteen and fifteen, when the actor was four or more years older than the victim (N.T.), N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c)(4); and third-degree endangering, abuse, or sexual act by a non-caregiver (N.T.), N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a). After merger, the judge imposed an aggregate sentence of thirty-three years, subject to twenty-five years of parole ineligibility.

On a prior appeal, the Appellate Division found that the CSAAS testimony was permissible under the exception set forth in J.L.G. because it “shed light” on the victims’ “general fear of disclosure, embarrassment, bribery by defendant, or confusion as to whether an act constitutes abuse [that] may be ‘beyond the ken of the average juror.'”

The Supreme Court of New Jersey since then decided State v. G.E.P., 243 N.J. 362 (2020) (G.E.P. II), allowing pipeline retroactivity to overturning certain convictions in which CSAAS played a significant part of the evidence against the defendant.  In the instant case, Defendant appealed again.  The Appellate Division found that this case did not warrant reversal because there was overwhelming evidence of abuse by defendant in addition to the CSAAS testimony.  Therefore, defendant’s conviction was affirmed.

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. Specifically, if you have been convicted for a sex offense in which CSAAS was proffered as evidence or the State plans on proffering this evidence, you are entitled to justice.  Failing to hire a defense attorney and putting your faith in a public defender could give you adverse consequences to your 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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