The highest court of one state has ruled that rape trauma syndrome testimony is inadmissible in criminal trials. I agree with this conclusion and write separately only to emphasize what I believe to be the narrow scope of this holding. She testified concerning the reactions of rape victims generally; none of her testimony concerned this particular victim.
The majority opinion may only mean that "rape trauma syndrome" evidence is properly admitted to explain delay in reporting a rape or sexual assault. The second phase is characterized by a disorganization in lifestyle, a change in residence, dreams about violent acts, nightmares and other sleep disturbances, the development of fears and phobias related to the specific circumstances of the attack and sexual dysfunction. Although other examples of post-traumatic stress disorder exist, the symptoms associated with rape trauma syndrome, e. The court of appeals creates a per se exclusionary rule for rape trauma syndrome testimony that does not permit consideration of the purpose for which the testimony is offered or its reliability. Other witnesses called by the People testified concerning aspects of the victim's behavior after the assault which were consistent with the rape trauma syndrome symptoms described by Wyka. Just when a scientific principle or discovery crosses the line between the experimental and demonstrable stages is difficult to define. The security guard convinced her to report the crime and she did so that evening, 89 days after the assault. The trial court had explicitly ruled that the expert testimony was admissible to explain the victim's delay in reporting the crime. In my view, the testimony and arguments relating to the rape trauma syndrome were improperly admitted because the trial court made no finding that the evidence satisfied the Frye test. Still other states have decided the issue with unclear results. Because rape trauma syndrome evidence has the potential to produce unreliable testimony, I do not believe a per se rule of admissibility, as endorsed by the majority, is desirable. The defendant, however, did not rely upon the reporting delay but upon an alibi defense. We believe the better view is that C. Accordingly, I would reverse and order a new trial. To the extent that the prosecutor, in his closing argument, used Wyka's testimony to argue that the victim had been raped rather than merely to corroborate her testimony, we disapprove of such action. Staggs and Hampton testified they were present during the meeting between Kent and the defendant. The rape trauma syndrome is a subcategory of post-traumatic stress disorder, which refers to the development of symptoms following a psychologically traumatic event not generally encountered in human experience. In similar cases, expert testimony has been admitted to explain delays in reporting crimes. The Frye test has been adopted in Colorado to insure the reliability of scientific testimony. Her testimony provided the jury with an alternative explanation for the reporting delay, and was properly admitted because of its relevance for this limited purpose. The testimony of Wyka provided the jury with an explanation for the delay in reporting consistent with the victim's testimony that she had been raped and that she had delayed reporting the rape until after the defendant stopped frequenting the bank because she was terrified of him. In my view, the admissibility of "rape trauma syndrome" evidence under the Frye test is far from certain. The defendant continued to frequent the bank at which the victim worked for the next two to three months. Because it was developed as a therapeutic and not as a diagnostic tool, it may not be sufficiently reliable in determining whether a rape occurred to satisfy the Frye test. Without determining if the evidence satisfied Frye v. We therefore reverse the decision of the court of appeals.
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