Child Sexual Abuse Cases: Reestablishing the Balance within the Adversary System

This Article begins with an overview of the adversary process and how it has changed in recent years to respond to the needs of children. The Article highlights two of the goals of the adversary process-(!) testing and probing of two sides to a story, and (2) refraining from a decision until the complete story is told-to examine how they can be retained in spite of these changes. Part II pinpoints the assignment of multiple or poorly-defined roles to the child sexual abuse professionals as one of the potential impediments to preserving the goals of the adversarial system. The performance of multiple roles occurs when the legal system asks these professionals to perform four functions: to evaluate whether the alleged acts have occurred, to chronicle the child’s account of events, to serve as an expert witness on the problem of child sexual abuse, and to act as an advocate · and supporter for the child. The assignment of a poorly-defined role occurs when the intervenor is asked to perform one function, such as therapy, and the legal system misuses the results. Although these problems with assigned functions are not present in every case, they arise frequently enough to warrant scrutiny of their effect on the adversary nature of criminal proceedings and on the checks built into the system. Finally, Part III concludes that if multiple functions have been assigned to an intervenor or if the potential for misuse of the intervenor’s work exists, the court should limit the scope of the intervenor’s testimony to avoid its misapplication or should appoint an independent expert to evaluate and critique the intervenor’s work.