STATE v. CAMERON M., SC 18829
Judicial District of Danbury
Criminal; Hearsay; Whether the Trial Court Properly Admitted a Video Recording of a Forensic Interview of a Child Abuse Victim Under the "Tender Years" Exception to the Hearsay Rule. The defendant was charged with various criminal offenses in connection with his alleged sexual abuse of a minor child. At trial, the state sought to introduce a video recording of a forensic interview of the child under the "tender years" exception to the hearsay rule, which is set forth in § 8-10 of the Connecticut Code of Evidence. Section 8-10 provides, in part, that a statement made by a child who is twelve years old or younger concerning an alleged act of sexual misconduct is admissible if the statement was not made in preparation for a legal proceeding, and the child testifies at the defendant's trial and is subject to cross-examination. The defendant objected to the admission of the video recording, arguing that the child’s statement was made in preparation for a legal proceeding. He claimed that the forensic interview was part of a police investigation in that the interviewer, Donna Meyer, cooperated with the police both before and during the interview. He also maintained that, for purposes of § 8-10, the child was not subject to cross-examination because although she testified and was cross-examined by defense counsel, she could not remember anything about the forensic interview or the alleged abuse. The trial court overruled the defendant's objection, finding that the child's statement was not made in preparation for a legal proceeding. It reasoned that Meyer was the only person in the room with the child during the interview and that although a police officer observed the interview through a one-way mirror, he did not participate in the interview or instruct Meyer to ask any particular questions. The court also emphasized that Meyer was an employee of an independent organization whose primary goal was not to assist the police, but to protect the child's welfare. The court further determined that the child was subject to cross-examination as required by § 8-10 because, despite her memory problems, she answered the questions posed by defense counsel during cross-examination to the best of her ability. Accordingly, the court concluded that the video recording was admissible under the tender years exception. Thereafter, the jury found the defendant guilty of two counts of risk of injury to a minor. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court properly admitted the video recording under the tender years exception.