research showing that the use of anatomical dolls actually decreases the amount of detailed
information reported by a child victim.197
The use of anatomical dolls and diagrams is one of the more controversial issues in child
witness statutes. This is most likely a reason why it has not been more extensively addressed by
state statutes or case law. Federal law states: “The court may permit a child to use anatomical dolls,
puppets, drawings, mannequins, or any other demonstrative device the court deems appropriate
for the purpose of assisting a child in testifying.”198
The use of anatomical diagrams was addressed by a federal court in U.S. v. Archdale.199
Wallace Archdale was convicted of sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact of a minor.200 During
the initial trial, the prosecutor used anatomical diagrams to help the victim clarify what she meant
when referring to the defendant’s “thing”.201 Upon appeal, Wallace argued that the court abused
its discretion when admitting this testimony. The appellate court disagreed ruling that “anatomical
dolls, puppets, drawings, mannequins, or any other demonstrative device the court deems
appropriate for the purpose of assisting a child in testifying”202 may be permitted for children under
the age of eighteen. Anatomical dolls and diagrams are permitted by federal statute when “the
court deems appropriate for the purpose of a child testifying.”203
Not all cases on this issue are as categorical. In U.S. v. Dorian, an adult couple was engaged
in a domestic violence situation.204 They went to the police station for protective custody, where
the couple’s five-year-old daughter was interviewed by child protective services, with the
assistance of anatomical dolls for two interviews.205 At the third interview, the dolls were not
used.206 The foster mother, who had been previously trained in handling cases of child abuse and
neglect, testified on behalf of the child using information she discovered while sitting in on the
child protective services interview and the anatomical doll demonstration from the victim.207 The
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit allowed this testimony due to the child’s inability to
testify because of her age and distress.208
Only nine states and the District of Columbia have statutes directly addressing the use of
anatomical dolls for child witnesses in cases of abuse, as seen in Table 7 of the appendix.209 In
addition to having provisions on the age of witnesses in which anatomical dolls and/or diagrams
197HALL & SALES, supra note 15, at 27.
19818 U.S.C. § 3509 (2012).
199United States v. Archdale, 229 F.3d 861, 866 (9th Cir. 2000) (holding that court did not err in allowing the
prosecutor to use an anatomical diagram to gain clarification during direct examination of a twelve-year old victim of
200Id. at 863.
201Id. at 866.
20318 U.S.C. § 3509 (2012).
204United States v. Dorian, 803 F.2d 1439, 1440 (8th Cir. 1986).
205Id. at 1441.
207Id. at 1442.
208Id. at 1445.
209Alabama allows for demonstrative aids for victims/witnesses under the age of ten (ALA. CODE § 15-25-5 (2015)).
The following states each allow demonstrative aids for victims and witnesses under the age of twelve: Connecticut
(CONN. GEN. STAT. ANN. § 54-86g (West 2015)); West Virginia (W. VA. CODE § 61-8-13 (West 2015)); and Wyoming
(WYO. STAT. ANN. § 7-11-408 (West 2015)). Missouri (MO. ANN. STAT. § 492.304 (West 2015)) allows aids for under
the age of fourteen. Four states allow aids for victims and witnesses under the age of sixteen: Michigan (MICH. COMP.
LAWS ANN. § 600.2163A (West 2015)); New Jersey (N.J. STAT. ANN. § 2A:84A- 16. 1 (West 2015)); New York (N.Y.
EXEC. LAW § 642-a (McKinney 2015)); and Pennsylvania ( 42 PA. STAT. AND CONS. STAT. ANN. § 5987 (West 2015)).