Oregon v. HenleyAnnotate this Case
Defendant Robert Henley was convicted of first-degree sexual abuse and attempted first-degree sodomy, arising out of child sexual abuse allegations by his stepdaughter during a family camping trip. The issue his case posed for the Oregon Supreme Court's review was whether the expert testimony that the trial court allowed about “grooming” children for later sexual activity was “scientific” evidence that required a foundational showing of scientific validity under OEC 702. At trial, over defendant’s objection, the trial court permitted a forensic interviewer to testify about defendant’s behavior that may have constituted “grooming” of the victim for sexual abuse if defendant had the requisite intent, without the state first establishing that the testimony about grooming was scientifically valid and reliable. On defendant’s appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the testimony was not scientific evidence for which a foundation was required. The Supreme Court concluded that the testimony was scientific evidence and that the trial court erred in admitting it without a proper foundation. Given the record, the Court declined to decide the validity and reliability of the expert testimony on review. The Court also concluded that the admission of the testimony was not harmless. Therefore, the Court of Appeals and the trial court were reversed, and the case remanded back to the trial court for further proceedings.