Judge Alan Beckoff

In this child protective proceeding, New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services alleged stepfather Ruben sexually abused Sabrina since she was 5. ACS argued mother Melody knew or should have known of the abuse and failed to protect Sabrina, alleging the other children were derivatively abused and/or neglected. Sabrina testified Ruben started abusing her as a child and into her teenage years. But before her testimony was complete, she absconded from her foster home. The court ruled Sabrina’s testimony would not be stricken but would be treated as an out-of-court statement needing corroboration. It also stated it would not permit her testimony to be reopened even if she were to reappear due to her long history of absconding from foster care. The court concluded Sabrina’s out-of-court statement were not sufficiently corroborated, noting it was not persuaded by the ruling in Matter of Charlie S., which ACS and Ruben cited, in which a child’s out-of-court statements were corroborated by an ACS caseworker’s testimony. It ruled repetition of an accusation by a child did no corroborate the child’s prior account. Sabrina’s siblings did not corroborate her statements, and the court dismissed the petition.