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Published: 7/11/2013

N.Y. court upholds 'comfort dog' in court

NY midlevel court upholds having 'comfort dog' in court for young witness in sex assault case

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ALBANY, N.Y. — A midlevel New York court has upheld allowing a therapeutic “comfort dog” to help a girl testify about sexual abuse.

The Appellate Division rejected Victor Tohom’s appeal of his 2011 convictions for predatory sexual assault against a child. Among his claims, Tohom says the golden retriever named Rosie made the 15-year-old unduly sympathetic to the jury.

The unanimous ruling by four justices says Tohom failed to show the dog’s presence was impermissible under state law or impaired his right to a fair trial.

Prosecutors acknowledged there was no statutory or case law allowing the dog to accompany the girl, though there was precedent for children testifying with a comfort item like a teddy bear.

The 39-year-old Tohom is in prison serving 25 years to life.



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