Saturday, October 23, 2004

Computer files, special ed expert out as evidence in Virginia sex abuse case

The Potomac News has this article ("Computer porn can't be used in teacher's trial," 10/23/04) a range of evidentiary rulings made by the trial court judge in a sex abuse case against a school teacher in a Virginia county.

Among other things, the judge ruled that pornography found on a classroom computer could not be used as evidence, where the Commonwealth could not prove that the defendant was responsible for it. The material was accessed using some kind of file-sharing service. The article notes that the school system has since installed a method of blocking the use of file-sharing with the school's computers.

The witnesses in the case include some special education students. The judge rejected a request that these witnesses be allowed to testify by way of closed circuit video. The judge also rejected the defense request for appointment of an expert witness, whom the defendant sought to explain the "cognitive difficulties" of the special education students.

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