Dog Helps Children Testify About Sexual Abuse

Illustration for article titled Dog Helps Children Testify About Sexual Abuse

"She just kept hugging Rosie," a psychologist told The New York Times. "She" was a fifteen-year-old testifying about her father repeatedly raping her, as well as impregnating her. Rosie is a golden retriever named after Rosa Parks who helps abused children testify in New York courts. Similarly-trained dogs work with children or developmentally disabled adults around the country.

The girl's father, Victor Tohom, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years, but now his defense is appealing based on the use of the dog, saying it made the girl's side of the story unduly sympathetic and that the dog could possibly help calm liars as well as the traumatized. (We are in a sad state if a raped young girl needs help in that department, but we digress.)

Despite the tragic contexts in which Rosie's help is needed, the reporter took evident pleasure in writing this one up:

Both prosecutors and defense lawyers have described her as adorable, though she has been known to slobber.

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and

The defense lawyers acknowledged the risk of appearing anti-dog. Rosie, they wrote, "is a lovely creature and by all standards a ‘good dog,' " and, they added, the defendant "wishes her only the best."

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The appeal is expected to test whether courtroom dogs unfairly bias a jury. The dog is expected to continue being freaking awesome.

Dog Helps Young Rape Victim Testify [NYT]

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DISCUSSION

stoprobbers
stoprobbers

I know what the defendant in question did is absolutely indefensible and deserves all the punishment he gets and a hell of a lot more, but please don't go cursing out the defense attorneys like they take pleasure in defending this monster. They're obligated to defend their clients with zeal, and we rely on that zealous defense to (at least attempt to) protect innocent people accused of crimes they didn't commit.

Rosie seems amazing, and the defense tactic is absurd, but they're obligated to do it.

As the daughter and niece of lawyers (and my uncle is a criminal defense attorney), I just want to stick up for good people who are trying to do their job as best they can, even when they have to defend monsters (and trust me, they know they're monsters).