Recently it has been reported by TMZ.com that Mr. Collins’ wife, actress Faye Grant who is currently involved with contentious divorce proceedings secretly recorded a joint therapy session during which two discussed Mr. Collins’ alleged sexual abuse of minors.
Often the convoluted and inconsistent laws and rules of evidence regarding child sexual abuse are exploited by offenders who can abuse in one jurisdiction then flee to another jurisdiction to avoid detection and accountability until statutes of limitation expire or witness memories fade, etc. Today’s information shows that this mishmash of rules can be used equally well to trip up those who act out against children. According to reports, Mr. Collins was secretly recorded in California and allegedly admitted to acting out sexually in New York. The two states (California and New York) have differing rules of evidence regarding the admissibility of surreptitiously recorded audio statements.
Several cutting edge legal issues are highlighted by this situation. First, whether a secret audio recording by one spouse obtained in one jurisdiction is admissible evidence in another jurisdiction. Second, by publically sharing statements made during a joint therapy session, Ms. Grant may have effectively nullified and waived the privileges that can be used to insulate potentially incriminating statements between patients and therapists. In blunt terms, now that the cat is out of the bag it can never be put back in.
According to reports, NYPD is investigating. It may be some time until the courts rule on these issues but the reality remains that our society is becoming increasingly mobile. As people, including those who would hurt children, move among different states and even countries the increasingly complicated laws can be used not only by alleged offenders to obscure their crimes but also to ensnare those same offenders and enforce accountability and justice upon them.
J. Michael Reck, Esq. is an attorney practicing in both New York and California who specializes in representing victims of child sexual abuse at the nationally prominent law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org