NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
Y.A., Defendant-Appellant. IN THE MATTER OF R.A., I.A., S.A., and Y.A., Minors
Submitted October 28, 2014.
Approved for Publication November 3, 2014.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FN-07-400-10.
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant ( Beth Anne Hahn, Designated Counsel, on the briefs).
John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent ( Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Diane L. Scott, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor R.A. ( Lisa M. Black, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minors I.A., S.A. and Y.A. ( Todd Wilson, Designated Counsel, on the brief).
The opinion of the court was delivered by HAAS, J.A.D. Before Judges REISNER, HAAS and HIGBEE.
[437 N.J.Super. 542] HAAS, J.A.D.
In this appeal, we address the issue of whether N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.46(a)(4) requires that the in camera testimony of a child victim of sexual abuse be independently corroborated in order to prove abuse or neglect under Title 9. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21 to -8.73. Based upon our review of the record and applicable law, we hold that the corroboration requirement of the statute does not apply where the child victim testifies to the abuse at a fact-finding hearing. We therefore affirm the trial judge's finding that the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (Division) met its burden of proving [437 N.J.Super. 543] that defendant Y.A. committed an act of sexual abuse against his daughter, R.A.
In May 2010, when R.A. was fourteen years old, she " gave her teacher a letter" stating that one day, when she was getting out of the shower and wearing only a towel, defendant came into the bathroom and " wanted to put lotion on her." The child stated defendant then rubbed the lotion on her legs and then " pressed on her vagina." R.A. told defendant that " it hurt" and that she could put the lotion on herself. R.A. did not know the specific date on which this incident occurred, but estimated it happened sometime between 2008 and 2009.
Later that night, R.A. and defendant were playing the word game " hangman" and defendant spelled out " can I play with your stuff again." A third incident occurred in June 2009, when R.A.'s mother, Q.B., was in the hospital giving birth to R.A.'s youngest sibling. That night, R.A. remembered going to bed with her underwear on and defendant getting into the bed with her. When R.A. awoke, she was no longer wearing ...