Goddard case: Report is ‘unreliable’

2019-10-22 13:03
Darren Goddard.

Darren Goddard.

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A crucial report by a clinical psychologist in the Darren Goddard case was yesterday attacked as unreliable by the defence.

Professor Steven Collings concludes in the report that he has no reason to suspect that any of the children’s disclosures are contrived. The nine boys allege they were raped, sexually assaulted or both by Goddard.

Advocate Shane Matthews told Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Kate Pillay that he will argue that the report, which paints Goddard in an unfavourable light, is irrelevant. This is because Collings was not given psychologists’ reports and certain statements made by the children to consider when he compiled the report. This means he did not have the full picture, the defence maintains.

Judge Pillay asked state advocate Attie Truter why Collings was not given all the information. Truter replied that he is not going to use the information that was not given to Collings.

Said the judge: “If you want a witness to give an objective report, you should give [him] everything, in your favour or not. It should be based on everything relevant to a just outcome. It is only fair that everything be given.”

Matthews asked for the case to be adjourned in order to cross-examine Collings. Earlier, Collings went through the report with the court. In it he says the children Goddard is alleged to have sexually abused were all “male, slim, white or light skinned and of similar age”.

According to the testimony of the teachers from the school where Goddard was a guidance counsellor, he allegedly acknowledged that he only saw a restricted range of children (excluding girls and African pupils) with no clear or acceptable rationale appearing to have been provided for doing so, said Collings.

In his view, such demographic profiling can be viewed as being either consistent with what one would expect in a “grooming process” (where the child is psychologically prepared for the sexual abuse) or is a highly improbable coincidence.

His opinion is based on police statements and the testimony of the boys and their mothers, he said. Collings said it is generally acknowledged that most cases of child sexual abuse involve a process with three phases:

An initial phase during which the child and others in the child’s life are psychologically prepared for sexual abuse of that child, described as a “grooming phase”; an abuse phase during which a child is sexually abused or an attempt is made to sexually abuse a child; and a post abuse phase which may or may not involve some form of disclosure.

Collings said the statements and testimony of the children suggested they were subjected to a variety of implicit and explicit threats/physical abuse. He drew up a table and listed what boys had said which indicated that an implicit or explicit threat was used. For example one boy said he “felt afraid” which was an implicit threat. The same boy also said “he hit me” and “he said he would kill me” which are explicit threats. Collings said that threats and or physical coercion were reported by a significant number of children, their nature was similar to the kind reported in “grooming literature”.

He said there were various forms of touch that did not involve either sexual abuse or rape. Some of the boys said Goddard kissed them on their forehead, smacked their bottom, touched their leg and gave them a hug.

“… it is difficult to understand what the purpose of this touching could possibly be — other than viewing them as grooming tactics designed to sensitise a child to physical touch,” said Collings.

His general conclusion was that there was evidence that the children were exposed to behaviour consistent with a grooming process.

He found the disclosures by all the children in the case were consistent with normal forms of disclosure of child sexual abuse and there was no clear evidence of it being contrived (fabricated or coached).

The trial continues today.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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