A response from district attorneyNote the carefully worded denial. There was testimony that the DAs knew about these tapes and withheld them since 1991. And now the DA complains about being rushed to explain themselves?!
The Mercury News editorial on the issue of VMC's videotaping of child sexual assault exams
(Editorial, Jan. 15) was misleading, and your suggestion that prosecutors may have knowingly withheld evidence for two decades is outrageous.
There is no evidence that this office received videotapes, much less decided to withhold them from defense attorneys. In the case you referred to that was overturned, the Court of Appeal explicitly found that we did not withhold evidence. Rather, it decided that if medical personnel made such tapes, we were responsible for giving them to the defense even if we never knew about them. Your suggestion that we "brought this upon [ourselves]" is irresponsible.
The timing of your editorial is also disturbing. We previously told your writer that we are gathering information on the affected cases and will provide everyone with a full accounting of what happened. Why pretend that we need your urging to do so?
Santa Clara County District Attorney
No DA should ever be using official child interviews in court unless those interviews are video-recorded. The law requires that defendants being given copies of any state evidence that might possibly exonerate him. It is outrageous that the San Jose Calif. prosecutors have been violating these basic principles since 1991 and still making lame excuses about it. It is no excuse that the tapes were not actually stored in the DA's office.