What is the test for establishing corpus delicti in a child molestation case involving multiple acts?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Amezcua, D069505 (Cal. App. 2017):

confessions, particularly those that might arise from the pressure of police interrogation. Consistent with the policy underlying the rule, courts in child molestation cases involving multiple acts, have not required count-by-count proof of corpus delicti. In People v. Tompkins (2010) 185 Cal.App.4th 1253 (Tompkins), the court squarely held that "separate evidence is not required as to each individual count to establish the corpus delicti; rather, evidence that multiple molestations took place will establish the corpus delicti for multiple counts." (Id. at p. 1260.)

The approach taken in Tompkins, supra, 185 Cal.App.4th 1253 is based on the observation that "[t]he testimony of young children concerning a series of events cannot be as perfect as a phonographic record thereof. It would practically close the doors against the prosecution of many of such wrongs if girls of tender years were required to give detailed and unvarying description of each transaction and its circumstances." (People v. Durfee (1947) 79 Cal.App.2d 632, 634.)4

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