shaken baby syndrome, child abuse, Connecticut Criminal Defense AttorneyOver the last two decades, the phrase “shaken baby syndrome” has entered the modern medical lexicon as a way of describing head injuries sustained by an infant, presumably as the result of physical abuse. Allegations of abuse are usually focused on the child’s parents or caregivers, and, in most cases, it would seem that the symptoms could not possibly have been the result of anything else. A growing number of medical professionals, however, including one whose testimony provided the cornerstone of a landmark shaken baby trial in 1997 are beginning to question the assumption that all such symptoms are the result of criminal abuse.

Abusive Head Trauma

While shaken baby syndrome has been a recognized diagnosis for a number of years, its colloquial-sounding name has been replaced by many professionals with the more clinical “abusive head trauma.” Its symptoms are usually threefold: swelling of the brain, bleeding on the surface of the brain, and bleeding behind the eyes. Known as the triad, these symptoms alone have been accepted as evidence of criminal abuse or violence, despite the lack of accompanying bruises, contusions, or broken bones.

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sexuaxl assault college, Connecticut sex crimes defense lawyerAllegations of sexual assault on college campuses are sadly not new phenomena, but sex crime defense attorneys across Connecticut are very concerned.  Attention to the subject was heightened by the Rolling Stone magazine piece entitled, “A Rape on Campus,” wherein the author described an existent rape culture at The University of Virginia. The substance of the article was subsequently proven false, and the article was included in a Columbia Journalism Review piece on The Worst Journalism of 2014. Whether the allegations were true or false, the article thrust the issue into the national political limelight. As politicians are prone to do, the response may have gone too far.

Currently moving through the Legislature is a bill that is the cause for concern for experienced Connecticut criminal defense lawyers who focus on sex crimes defense.  The “yes means yes” bill, would require the accused in a sexual assault case in Connecticut colleges and universities to prove that he received  an “affirmative consent” from another individual before proceeding with any form of sexual relations. The definition of “affirmative,” could include both verbal and non-verbal cues. However, the onus would be upon the accused to prove that consent was given in one form or another.

The bill’s proponents contend that passage would eliminate “victim shaming,” or focusing on whether the victim of sexual assault had been drinking or wearing provocative clothes. Detractors believe that the legislation would only lead to greater confusion in relying on verbal and non-verbal cues to determine an appropriate course of action in those situations. Though the University of Connecticut, the University of New Haven and Yale University already have such guidelines in place, Connecticut would join only California in enacting such a statewide law that would shift the burden to the accused to prove that he did nothing wrong on college campuses.

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