24 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 36: 1 2016]
that the prosecution file a motion before the trial, alerting the court as to who the child’s support
person will be.270 This filing requirement is intended to prevent issues once the trial begins.
In regard to an ideal statute, there should be more uniformity with regard to whom the
support person may be and their proximity to the victim. The latter factor should be differentiated
based on age. Below is the fourth recommendation, regarding the presence of support persons:
Any victim or witness under the age of 18 is allowed a parent, guardian, other
relative, or general support person to accompany him or her during all parts of
criminal proceedings, with the exception of forensic interviews. If the support
person is to be present during trial, counsel is expected to file proper motions with
the court at least seven days before the hearing. During trial, this support person
may approach the witness stand with the witness, but is not allowed to comment on
the witness’s testimony or questions posed by counsel. Children under the age of
10 may sit on the lap of his or her support person during testimony at the discretion
of the court.
Support persons are generally guardians, relatives, friends, counselors, the child’s state
sponsored attorney (guardian ad litem), or a victim advocate.271 While parents may serve as their
child’s support person during trial, this is not recommended as the parent may also be a witness
for the case or may become easily upset by the line of questioning or hearing their child retell the
abusive incident.272 Regardless of whom the support person for the child is, that person cannot
engage in coaching the child before testimony or provide any comments while the child is on the
stand.273 Research is lacking on how well this improves children’s ability to testify. However, the
presence of a support person during the child’s testimony has been shown to decrease anxiety and
likelihood of emotional trauma.274
F. Use of Anatomical Dolls and Diagrams
Generally, state and federal rules of evidence allow for the use of anatomical dolls,
diagrams, or other demonstrative aids at the discretion of the court. The suggested statute must
simply allow for the use of anatomical dolls during court testimony. Alabama’s current state statute
is considered ideal:
In any criminal proceeding and juvenile cases wherein the defendant is alleged to
have had unlawful sexual contact or penetration with or on a child, the court shall
permit the use of anatomically correct dolls [or diagrams]…to assist an alleged
victim or witness who is under the age of 10 in testifying on direct and cross-
examination at trial275
270Arkansas (ARK. CODE ANN. § 16-43-1202 (West 2015)); California (CAL. PENAL CODE § 868.5 (West 2015));
Michigan (MICH. COMP. LAWS § 600.2163A (West 2015)); Minnesota (MINN. STAT. ANN. § 631.046 (West 2015));
Missouri (MO. ANN. STAT. § 491.725 (West 2015)); New York (N. Y. CRIM. PROC. LAW § 190.25 (McKinney 2015));
Virginia (VA. CODE ANN. §
19.2-265.01(West 2015)); and Wyoming (WYO. STAT. ANN. § 813.122(West 2015)).
271HALL & SALES, supra note 15, at 23.
274Goodman et al., supra note 95, at 259.
275ALA. CODE §la. Cod (2015).