Title 11
Criminal Offenses

Chapter 37
Sexual Assault

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-37-13.2

§ 11-37-13.2. Alternative methods of victim testimony — Child victim.

(a) In any judicial proceeding in which a person has been charged with sexual assault of a child who at the time of trial is seventeen (17) years of age or less, the court may order, upon a showing that the child is unable to testify before the court without suffering unreasonable and unnecessary mental or emotional harm, that the testimony of the child be taken in a room other than the courtroom and either be recorded for later showing before the court and/or the finder of fact in the proceeding or be broadcast simultaneously by closed circuit television to the court and/or finder of fact in the proceeding. When the child is fourteen (14) years of age or younger at the time of trial, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the child is unable to testify before the court without suffering unreasonable and unnecessary mental or emotional harm. Only the judge, attorneys for the parties, persons necessary to operate the recording or broadcasting equipment, and any person whose presence would contribute to the welfare and well-being of the child may be present in the room with the child during his or her testimony. Examination and cross-examination shall proceed in the same manner as permitted at the trial or hearing.

(b) The persons operating the equipment shall be confined to an adjacent room or behind a screen or mirror which permits them to see and hear the child during his or her testimony, but does not permit the child to see or hear them. The court shall permit the defendant to observe and hear the testimony of the child in person, but ensure that the child cannot hear or see the person alleged to have committed the assault. The defendant shall be afforded a means of communicating with his or her attorney throughout the proceedings, and, upon request of the defendant or his or her attorney, recesses shall be permitted to allow them to confer. The court shall ensure that:

(1) The recording or broadcast is both visual and aural and is recorded on film or videotape or by other electronic means;

(2) The recording equipment was capable of making an accurate recording, the operator of the equipment was competent, and the recording is accurate and has not been altered;

(3) Each voice on the recording is identified;

(4) Each party is afforded an opportunity to view any recording made prior to trial before it is shown in the courtroom; and

(5) The statement is sworn to under oath by the child.

(c) If the court orders the testimony of a child to be so recorded or broadcast, the child shall not be required to testify at the proceeding for which the testimony was taken, and the testimony shall be used in lieu of the live testimony of the child.

History of Section.
P.L. 1985, ch. 355, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 385, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 473, § 1.