The Court of Appeals, in a full-fledged opinion by Judge Pigott, determined that an admission of child sexual abuse made to the defendant's psychiatrist was privileged. The psychiatrist should not have been allowed to testify about the admission at defendant's trial. The error was not harmless. The Court made it clear that the relaxed evidentiary standards in child protective proceedings where physicians are required to report abuse, do not extend to the context of a criminal trial where the defendant's liberty is at stake:
The Legislature has determined that the protection of children is of paramount importance, so much so that it has either limited or abrogated the privilege through statutory enactments.
The People erroneously assert that these exceptions place offenders on notice that the physician-patient privilege does not apply to statements or admissions triggering a duty to disclose. But it is one thing to allow the introduction of statements or admissions in child protection proceedings, whose aim is the protection of children, and quite another to allow the introduction of those same statements, through a defendant's psychiatrist, at a criminal proceeding, where the People seek to punish the defendant and potentially deprive him of his liberty. Evidentiary standards are necessarily lower in the former proceedings than in the latter because the interests involved are different. Thus, the relaxed evidentiary standards in child protection proceedings lend no credence to the People's argument that defendant should have known that any admission of abuse he made to his psychiatrist would not be kept confidential. People v Rivera, 2015 NY Slip Op 03764, CtApp 5-7-15