A recent New York appellate opinion discussed a case in which a defendant asserted that his rights were compromised because he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The defendant was charged with sexual conduct involving a child in the second and first degrees. The victim, a relative of the defendant’s extended family, informed a school counselor that she had been molested by the defendant between the ages of five and 10 years old on several occasions. The defendant acknowledged that the defense asserted at trial was that this disclosure was a recent fabrication. He also argued, however, that the defense was not assumed until final summations and that the defense was inexplicable in light of statements that the victim provided regarding the abuse to three of her friends roughly four years before the criminal proceeding.
According to the trial court record, however, this defense was asserted very early in the trial proceedings, including at the voir dire or jury selection phase, and it proceeded throughout the trial. The record also showed that defense counsel provided a foundation for this defense in his opening statement, indicating that the victim waited seven years to alert the authorities and that the victim’s decision to wait to disclose the event to authorities four years after she informed her friends indicated that she was not credible.