Service Dog: Unfair Advantage for Rape Victim?
That’s right folks, you read the title correctly. A defense lawyer is claiming that a jury was swayed unfairly by a courtroom service dog who was helping a stressed, traumatized rape victim testify against her father.
Victor Tohom was accused of raping and impregnating his 15 year old daughter. The trial ended in New York back in June and Mr. Tohom was found guilty. The dog Rosie has been credited with helping the 15 year old get through her testimony but defense lawyers argue that the dog may unfairly have swayed jurors with her cuteness and the natural empathy. The defense argues that the appearance Rosie may convinced jurors that the dog is helping the victim just get through her truth, rather then helping her gather the courage to lie on the stand. “Every time she stroked the dog,” Mr. Martin said in an interview, “it sent an unconscious message to the jury that she was under stress because she was telling the truth. There was no way for me to cross-examine the dog”.
courthouse dogs are starting to be a commonality in court rooms across America being utilized for their natural abilities to calm people who have experienced trauma or a great deal of stress, and have been particularly successful with children. Rosie was the first courthouse dog to be used in the state of New York and the outcome of this appeal has the potential to set a precedence not only in New York but across the US.