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Name: People v. Austin
Case #: B238535
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/12/2013
Summary

Prosecution expert who lacked medical background was qualified to testify that victim’s physiological response to oral copulation did not reflect the act was consensual. Austin was charged with a number of forcible sex acts committed against his minor stepdaughter. On appeal Austin claimed the prosecution expert was unqualified to give an opinion regarding the physical response to oral copulation. Held: Affirmed. Regarding the allegations of forcible oral copulation, the prosecution averred Austin used duress to secure submission; the defense argued he believed the acts were consensual. The minor testified she experienced orgasm during oral copulation. The prosecution expert in child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome (CSAAS) also testified how a sexual assault victim could experience orgasm although the sexual act was committed against her will. Austin claimed the expert’s lack of medical training (she was neither a physician nor psychologist) rendered her unqualified to testify regarding such physiological responses and he was prejudiced by this testimony, which undercut his defense of reasonable belief in consent. However, Austin had the opportunity to question the expert’s qualifications, but did not do so. The expert had 25 years’ experience working with the victims of sexual assault, including adolescent females. She was a part-time professor and clinic supervisor at a sexual assault trauma center. She had training in the physiology of sexual response. Admission of the evidence was not an abuse of discretion.