The Third Department determined that the child’s out-of-court stated alleged sexual touching (by Makenzie) were not sufficiently corroborated. The findings of neglect and derivative neglect based on the statements were reversed:
While the out-of-court statements made by a child relating to any allegations of abuse or neglect are admissible in Family Ct Act article 10 proceedings, they must be corroborated in order to “be sufficient to make a fact-finding of abuse or neglect” (Family Ct Act § 1046 [a]…). The purpose of this requirement is to establish the reliability of the hearsay statements, and Family Court has considerable discretion to determine the sufficiency of corroborative evidence … . Such a statement “may be corroborated by any evidence tending to support its reliability, and a relatively low degree of corroborative evidence is sufficient” … . Nevertheless, we conclude that petitioner failed to satisfy its burden here.
Family Court’s conclusion, based upon our decision in Matter of Brandon UU. (193 AD2d 835 ), that sufficient corroboration existed because the child pointed to the area where she claimed respondent had pinched her, is misplaced. The determination in Matter of Brandon UU. (supra) was based on the child’s consistent account of sexual abuse coupled with the expert testimony that the child was being truthful (id. at 837). Here, there was no expert testimony and the child’s demonstration, without more, is part of the out-of-court statement itself and insufficient as corroboration … .
Likewise, there is no merit to petitioner’s argument that the child’s repetition of consistent accounts of the abuse to the grandmother, social worker and detective serve as sufficient corroboration. It is well settled that “repetition of an accusation by a child does not corroborate [that]; child’s prior account” … . The lack of any proof “validating the child’s account or relating any of her past or present conduct or characteristics to the alleged sexual abuse” requires reversal of the finding of neglect as to Makenzie on the ground that the out-of-court statements were not sufficiently corroborated … . Matter of Katrina CC, 2014 NY Slip Op 04094, 3rd Dept 6-5-14