Experts, Psychology, Credibility, and Rape: The Rape Trauma Syndrome Issue and Its Implications for Expert Psychological Testimony
76 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2015
Date Written: March 23, 2015
This Article first examines the mythology and the fears that people have about rape and ways in which those views affect jurors, judges, and victims, paying particular attention to the problems of false accusation and of distinguishing seduction from rape. The Article then discusses the evidentiary rules that govern the admissibility of expert testimony and novel scientific theories and describes the application of these rules to expert testimony about RTS. Finally, the Article examines the proper role of psychology in the courtroom and reviews the various approved uses of expert psychological testimony. The Article concludes that the California, Minnesota, and Missouri courts' exclusion of expert testimony on RTS cannot be reconciled with judicial acceptance of other forms of expert testimony. It also demonstrates that RTS evidence can help the fact finder resolve difficult issues of guilt or innocence and that such evidence can educate jurors and judges, which may help correct erroneous social attitudes about the crime of rape. The Article underscores the need for reform of the process by which judges determine the admissibility of expert psychological testimony and concludes that psychologists have an appropriate, even necessary, role in the legal system.
Keywords: rape, rape trauma syndrome, expert testimony, psychologist
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