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Ind. prosecutors say rulings are making it difficult to prosecute child abuse cases

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Some Indiana prosecutors say recent Supreme Court court rulings are making it more difficult to prosecute child abuse cases. 

The decisions restrict the use of evidence and recorded testimony in the courtroom.

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann says in the past five years or so, he only remembers one time a child's video-recorded statement was allowed in Vanderburgh County court.

But some believe those recorded moments are crucial when a trial begins years down the road. They play a big part in developing the case. They play a big part in getting the case started.

Hermann says after years of defense-requested delays, a child molestation trial against now 53-year-old Timothy Gibson began Monday morning, eight years after he was charged.

"You seem a lot less credible when you're testifying about something that happened years ago and so that makes it very difficult," Hermann says.  

That's one reason some Indiana attorneys say initial video statements from a child should be allowed in court.

But two Supreme Court decisions, Tyler vs. State and Cox vs. State, don't allow them and require victims to testify in court.

"It can be very difficult for that jury to imagine how the child was different when the crime occurred, versus when they're in court," says Sidney Hardgrave, the Executive Director of Holly's House. 

"If a court sees somebody that's capable of testifying, we're not going to be able to put it in, they're going to have to testify," Hermann says.  

Hermann says court delays in child molestation and abuse cases favor the defendant and not their victims.

That's why he's pushing for a victim's right to a speedy trial to bring their horrible ordeals to a quicker end.

"The longer the time elapses, the more difficult it is to give details, to give days of the week," Hermann says. "These victims need closure."

The defendant in that story, Timothy Gibson, was charged in 2005 with six counts of child molestation. According to the police affidavit, the abuse began when his alleged victims were 11 and 12 years old. They are now in their early 20's as this trial begins.

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