NCVLI Updates for November 2012

Dear Kathryn,


Welcome to the November Issue of NCVLI’s Child-Victim Digest.  Child-victims of crime have unique needs, and NCVLI is committed to responding to those needs by fighting for child-victims’ rights.  In this Digest, you will find a summary of a noteworthy case involving child-victims’ rights, as well as a selection of news items relating to issues that concern child-victims of crime.



Kovaleski v. State, No. SC09-536, — So. 2d —, 2012 WL 5258677 (Fl. Oct. 25, 2012).


Defendant was convicted of two counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor. During defendant’s retrial in 2006, the trial court partially closed the courtroom during the testimony of the child-victim, in accordance with a statutory provision allowing for partial closure upon the request of any testifying victim of a sex offense. Defendant appealed, arguing that the statutory closure provision conflicted with the requirements established by the Supreme Court in Waller v. Georgia, 467 U.S. 39 (1984). In Waller, the Court held that the presumption of openness may be overcome if the following three requirements are met: (1) the party seeking to close the hearing must advance an overriding interest that is likely to be prejudiced, (2) the closure must be no broader than necessary to protect that interest, (3) the trial court must consider reasonable alternatives to closing the proceedings, and (4) the court must make findings adequate to support the closure. The statutory closure provision at issue provides that, upon the request of a victim of a sex offense, the courtroom shall be cleared during the testimony of the victim, with the exception of the “parties to the cause and their immediate families or guardians, attorneys and their secretaries, officers of the court, jurors, newspaper reporters or broadcasters, court reporters, and, at the request of the victim, victim or witness advocates designated by the state attorney.” The Florida Supreme Court held that the statute itself “acceptably embraces the requirements set forth in Waller” for the following reasons: First, closure is not automatic, but occurs only at the request of a testifying victim, and “protecting the victim upon his or her request is a compelling interest of the State.” Second, the closure is narrow – applying only to the testimony of the victim – and a number of individuals, including members of the press, are allowed to remain in the courtroom, making the closure no broader than necessary. Third, the court found that “allowing the parties [specified in the statute] to remain in the courtroom . . . provides for the most reasonable alternative to closing the courtroom during the trial.” Finally, trial courts were advised to ensure that the statute applies to the case and that it is properly applied, reflecting these findings in the record to allow for appellate review. Defendant’s conviction was affirmed.



Convicted Rapist Seeks Visitation Rights to Victim’s Child

A man convicted in 2009 of raping a 14-year-old girl is now seeking visitation rights to the child born to the victim. The child-victim’s attorney has questioned why the case was allowed to proceed in family court, as this is an issue that relates squarely to the criminal offense, and argues that any payments made by defendant to help provide financial support for the child should be classified as restitution, not child support.


Defiant Mobile County Minister Receives a 10-Year Sentence for Sexual Assault, Blames Rape Shield Law
An Alabama court has reiterated the importance of the state’s rape shield law in protecting the privacy of a young victim. The child-victim was 15 when he was raped by a local pastor. In responding to defendant’s allegations that Alabama’s rape shield law compromised his defense, the court affirmed that the rape shield “statute is a very important statute for these crimes to be prosecuted.”

Juvenile Killers and Life Terms: A Case in Point
The Supreme Court in June banned mandatory life sentences without parole for those under age 18 who are convicted of murder.  The ruling did not specify whether it applied retroactively, which has resulted in uncertainty and anxiety for the families of many victims.

Mother of Child-Victim Seeks Restitution from Rapist

The mother of a 12-year-old rape victim is seeking $300,000 in restitution, which represents the projected cost of raising a child to age 18, to help cover the costs of raising the child her daughter gave birth to as a result of the rape.

Oakland Children’s Clinic Celebrates Anti-Trafficking Bill

The new law, Tattoo Removal for Juvenile Victims, will expand existing tattoo removal services (previously provided to rehabilitated former gang members) to include sex trafficking victims who were tattooed as a form of “branding” by their exploiters.  Stacy Katz, Executive Director for Oakland’s WestCoast Children’s Clinic, observed that, “[r]emoving tattoos of sex-trafficked young women is a first step toward their recovery.”

School Records To Be Provided to Defense

Trayvon Martin’s school records and social media profiles will be turned over to the defense team in advance of defendant’s trial for murder. The child-victim’s mother spoke out against the court’s ruling: “First I’d like to say that Trayvon was the victim . . . . As human beings, our first priority shouldn’t be to assassinate the character of the victims and make it seem as though they’re the perpetrator.”

Child-Victim to Sandusky: “Because of you, I trust no one”
In front of a packed court room, victim No. 4 spoke out against his abuser. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive you, but I hope that the others who were abused after me will forgive me for not coming forward sooner,” said the victim.

With Predators Lurking Online, Children Can Be in Danger

Authorities have made at least a dozen arrests in the last year and a half in Alabama’s Henry and Houston counties on charges involving the solicitation of children through the Internet or by other electronic means. The offenses in some of the dozen criminal cases involve the use of e-mail, social media accounts such as Facebook, and/or cell phones to elicit unlawful activity.


Youth Soccer Coach Sentenced to 15 Years for Sexual Child Abuse
A coach for the West Valley Youth Soccer League was sentenced to 15 years in state prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old child-victim.  The victim’s attorney provided a statement addressing the harm caused by defendant and arguing that, based on prior conduct, defendant should never have been allowed to be a coach.



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