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Name: People v. Sedano (2023) 88 Cal.App.5th 474
Case #: F082933
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/21/2023
Summary

Trial court properly admitted CSAAS expert testimony, including statistics, regarding the prevalence of (1) preexisting relationships between the abuser and abused and (2) delayed disclosure of molestations. Sedano was convicted of several sex offenses against his adoptive niece. At trial, a Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS) expert, who was unaware of the specifics of Sedano’s case, explained the body of CSAAS research. The testimony included the CSAAS evidence and statistics referenced above. On appeal, Sedano argued the statistics improperly bolstered the victim’s credibility and constituted impermissible witness vouching. He argued the delayed disclosure statistics permitted the jury to attribute his niece’s delayed reporting to a “numerical likelihood without assessing the particular circumstances of the case and her credibility.” Held: Affirmed on this point. The Court of Appeal disagreed with Sedano’s arguments because “these are not the sort of statistics that convey a conclusion concerning defendant’s legal guilt[,]” but rather dispelled common myths and misconceptions. The statistics could “help the jury objectively evaluate the credibility of an alleged child victim of sexual abuse.” The expert did not impermissibly vouch for the truthfulness of the abuse allegations by testifying regarding the statistics. The court distinguished cases holding that it is an abuse of discretion to permit expert testimony on the infrequency of false allegations by child sexual abuse victims.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/F082933M.PDF