House Study Bill 19 - IntroducedA Bill ForAn Act 1relating to expert witness testimony in child sexual
2abuse and child endangerment cases.
3BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:
1   Section 1.  NEW SECTION.  915.39  Expert witness testimony in
2child sexual abuse, child abuse, and child endangerment cases.
   31.  For the purposes of this section:
   4a.  “Child endangerment” means a criminal charge alleging
5that a defendant has committed an offense under section 726.2,
6726.3, or 726.6, against a victim under eighteen years of age
7at the time of the offense.
   8b.  “Sexual abuse” means a criminal charge alleging that a
9defendant has committed an offense under chapter 709 against a
10victim under eighteen years of age at the time of the offense.
   112.  In a criminal prosecution in which a defendant has been
12charged with child sexual abuse or child endangerment, evidence
13from a qualified expert witness shall be admissible on matters
14relevant to the case, including but not limited to testimony
15from the expert witness based upon the expert’s education,
16training, and experience concerning any of the following:
   17a.  The various reasons child victims delay disclosure of
18circumstances surrounding sexual abuse or child endangerment,
19or intermittently disclose details of such circumstances
20surrounding sexual abuse or child endangerment.
   21b.  The process engaged in by perpetrators of sexual abuse
22to groom their victims, or grooming behaviors in general,
23which include but are not limited to preparing a child for
24victimization and ensuring the child does not report the sexual
25abuse.
   26c.  The various reasons that child victims recant allegations
27of sexual abuse or child endangerment.
   28d.  Possible symptoms or post-allegation behaviors of a child
29who is the victim of sexual abuse or child endangerment.
30EXPLANATION
31The inclusion of this explanation does not constitute agreement with
32the explanation’s substance by the members of the general assembly.
   33This bill relates to expert testimony in child sexual abuse,
34child abuse, and child endangerment cases.
   35The bill defines “child endangerment” as a criminal charge
-1-1alleging that the defendant has committed an offense under
2Code section 726.2 (incest), 726.3 (neglect or abandonment of
3a dependent person), or 726.6 (child endangerment), against a
4victim under 18 years of age at the time of the offense and
5“sexual abuse” as a criminal charge alleging that the defendant
6has committed an offense under Code chapter 709 (sexual abuse)
7against a victim under 18 years of age at the time of the
8offense.
   9The bill creates new Code section 915.39, which provides
10that in a criminal prosecution in which a defendant has
11been charged with child sexual abuse or child endangerment,
12evidence from a qualified expert witness is admissible on
13matters relevant to the case, including but not limited to
14testimony from the expert witness based upon the expert’s
15education, training, and experience concerning any of the
16following: (1) reasons child victims delay disclosure of
17circumstances surrounding sexual abuse or child endangerment,
18or intermittently disclose details of such circumstances
19surrounding sexual abuse or child endangerment; (2) the process
20engaged in by perpetrators of sexual abuse to groom their
21victims, or grooming behaviors in general, which include but
22are not limited to preparing a child for victimization and
23ensuring the child does not report the sexual abuse; (3) the
24various reasons that child victims recant allegations of
25sexual abuse or child endangerment; and (4) possible symptoms
26or post-allegation behaviors of a child who is the victim of
27sexual abuse or child endangerment.
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