Steward v. State

652 N.E.2d 490 (1995)

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Steward v. State

Indiana Supreme Court
652 N.E.2d 490 (1995)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

The state (plaintiff) charged 52-year-old Bobby Steward (defendant) with crimes based on the sexual abuse of two sisters, 15-year-old S.M. and 13-year-old A.M. Steward was a police officer and family friend of the children. Steward allegedly molested S.M. through sexual intercourse and fondled A.M. with the intent to arouse sexual desires. At trial, the state presented expert evidence pertaining to child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome (CSAAS) to establish that S.M. had been sexually abused. For instance, the state offered the expert testimony of a licensed psychologist who had treated S.M. The psychologist opined that S.M. had exhibited symptoms consistent with other teenagers who had experienced sexual abuse, namely, poor self-esteem, family problems, depression, and other behavioral issues. Another therapist was allowed to testify that children who had been sexually abused exhibited common traits or characteristics and that S.M.’s behavior had markedly changed after she disclosed a sexual relationship with Steward. The jury convicted Steward of his crimes against S.M. and A.M. The court of appeal affirmed Steward’s conviction as to A.M. and reversed as to S.M. based on a certain evidentiary issue. The Indiana Supreme Court granted Steward’s transfer petition to address the issue of whether expert testimony relating to CSAAS is inadmissible due to reliability concerns.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Dickson, J.)

Dissent (Sullivan, J.)

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