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Child’s Testimony Allowed as Evidence for 1st Time

Posted October. 06, 2009 08:01,   


A 12-year-old girl sat at an investigation room for videotaping at a prosecutor’s office in May last year.

Kim Mi-yeong, a statement analysis officer at the Digital Forensic Center, asked the girl, “Do you know why I’m here?” The girl, however, avoided eye contact and dropped her head.

“Yes, I meet girls like you who’ve experienced something bad,” Kim said. “Some think ‘Why did this happen to me? Did I do something wrong?’ But it’s not your fault.” The girl sobbed but calmed down 20 minutes later.

Kim then asked, “Can you tell me exactly what happened to you from the beginning?” The girl nodded quietly.

The girl said her stepfather on a summer evening five years ago took off her clothes and molested her in the living room, adding he repeated the act dozens of times over the course of one year.

After listening to her story, Kim referred to a specific moment and asked her, “How did you feel? And where did your dad put his hand?”

Then, all of the girl’s repressed memories popped up: the bad smell of sour seafood in her stepfather’s mouth and the moment she ran to the bathroom after he molested her. She told everything to Kim.

After questioning, Kim opened the window and told the girl, “Don’t keep bad memories in your heart. I will throw away your bad memories.”

Back then, her stepfather claimed that her mother wanted to extort money from him after she learned what he did to her daughter. The girl was unable to remember the specific situation because she was too young, but she remembered enough in the interview.

A Seoul court sentenced the stepfather to four years in prison after looking for problems in the cognitive interview technique and in the course of the analysis by a psychologist. His conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in July.

For the first time in Korean judicial history, the investigation document based on cognitive interview and its analysis report were adopted as evidence.

Prosecutors plan to hire more analysis officers and educate prosecutors and investigators about the cognitive interview technique.