Support Animals for Crime Victims?
This weekend, there have been articles appearing in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times about a new trend to provide alleged child sexual abuse victims “service animals” while they testify on the stand. These animals are being offered under the guise that it reduces the emotional impact of the testimony, but prosecutors are candidly admitting that the animals increase the number of convictions that are being obtained. The issue is whether they create sympathy for the victim. No one likes be cross-examined. It is tough, but the strain of being on the stand often makes people slip and make stupid admissions. Should the witness stand be a comfortable place? Even for a child, I question whether this is correct. The testimony that we are getting has been the result of multiple interviews, work with social workers, and is already been “massaged and air brushed.” Is this one step too far?