Social workers may not realize that hearsay statements are any out-of-court statements offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. For instance, a prosecutor seeking to prove that X assaulted Y could not have a witness testify that “Joe told me that X assaulted Y.” The witness’s statement would be inadmissible hearsay. Such hearsay statements are generally not admissible in criminal trials. But there are exceptions.

An outcry witness is the first adult to whom a child (14 years of age, or younger), or disabled person, tells about being a victim of a statutory designated offense, often a sexual offense, as described in Article 38.072 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The statute allows a witness to testify about the alleged victim’s out-of-court description of the offense as an “exception” to the hearsay rule. In instances where the child has been victimized by multiple times acts of sexual assault, there may be multiple outcry witnesses; provided, however, there may be “only one outcry witness per event.