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Hobgood v. State
Mississippi Supreme Court
926 So. 2d 847 (2006)
Richard Hobgood (defendant) was charged with sexual abuse of a minor. The child victim told a babysitter about the abuse. The child then repeated the same story to his mother. The mother took the child to psychotherapist Denise Detotto, and the child told Detotto the same story. Over the next year, the child continued to see Detotto for therapy, and the child’s story remained the same the entire time. At trial, Detotto was called to testify about her expertise with child victims of sexual abuse and her experiences with the specific child victim in this case. While testifying, Detotto was asked if she found the child credible when he told her his story. Detotto responded yes. Hobgood objected that Detotto was testifying about the victim’s credibility, but the trial court allowed the questioning to continue. Detotto was then asked why she found that the child was credible. Detotto responded that the child had told her the same details during his year of therapy and that the child’s story had been corroborated by physical evidence. Detotto also testified about tests she had performed that helped her to assess the victim’s credibility. Five other witnesses testified in the case. Hobgood was convicted and appealed. On appeal, Hobgood argued that the trial court had erroneously allowed Detotto to testify about the victim’s credibility because only the jury can determine credibility.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Cobb, J.)
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