The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today a psychologist who convinced a woman to go to authorities when she told a him a man raped her when she was a child visiting his house can be compelled to hand over notes related to the allegation.
In its ruling, the state's highest court said that while defendants cannot go on "fishing expeditions" with the records of accusers who seek professional help, in this case, Bernard LaBroad was seeking documents related specifically to the charge brought against him. The court noted the psychologist had detailed the statements the woman made in an interview with police.
It is both essential and difficult to maintain balance between a defendant's right to present a defense and the protection of a complainant's statutory privilege against disclosure. Here, the defendant has focused his request for records on those relative to the complainant's specific disclosure (see note 3, supra ). Because the complainant's explanation of how and when the alleged sexual assault occurred was relevant and had evidentiary value, either as impeachment material or as substantive evidence, and because the defense was based on the complainant's allegedly conflicting and inconsistent statements regarding the assault, a summons for the production of the psychologist's records related to the complainant's report of sexual assault should have issued.