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Crime and Courts


Ohio Supreme Court overturns abuse conviction based on toddler's statements
Upholds lower court's overturning of Darius Clark's conviction for child abuse
by WKSU's KABIR BHATIA


Reporter
Kabir Bhatia
 
In The Region:
A Cleveland man is getting a new trial after being sentenced to 28 years in prison for child abuse. The Ohio Supreme Court has narrowly ruled that statements made by a 3-year-old to his teacher should not have been repeated during the trial in 2010. WKSU' Kabir Bhatia reports.
Ohio Supreme Court rules child's statements can't be used in trial

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Darius Clark was convicted on multiple counts after Cuyahoga County prosecutors said he physically abused his girlfriend’s children – a 3-year-old boy and a 22-month old girl. 

Teachers questioned the boy in school when they noticed whip marks on his back and bruises on his face. He was found to be too young to testify, but teachers were allowed to repeat his remarks during testimony. And that, says a 4-3 vote by the state high court, should never have happened.

Clark’s attorney, John Martin, argued that teachers, like social workers, should be considered law enforcement agents when questioning a child in an abuse case. But that doesn’t mean they should be able to repeat testimony from a child who can’t testify himself.

“Teachers came before the court and relayed statements from a child who was so unreliable that the child could not come before that jury. And the jury was not even told that the child was so unreliable that the child could not testify. And instead, they heard the words through a credible source.”

Wednesday’s decision also said the repeat testimony violated Clark’s right to confront his accusers.
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