Admissibility of Repressed Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse

The only court case we have found that set the requierments for admitting testimony of a repressed memory is the 1997 NH Supreme Court case State v. Hungfrd (

The relivant section is as follows:

Our recognition that ordinary memory is subject to suggestion only emphasizes the limitations of eyewitness testimony in any case, see Sleeping Memories, supra at 155; Hall et al., supra at 126-27, and does not conclusively control our evaluation of recovered memories. This point merely establishes the post against which the reliability of recovered memories must be measured. See, e.g., Hurd, 432 A.2d at 95. To establish that a recovered memory is reliable, the proponent of its admission must demonstrate a reasonable likelihood that the recovered memory is as accurate as ordinary human memory. See id.; cf. Shahzade v. Gregory, 923 F. Supp. 286, 290 (D. Mass. 1996) (inquiring only into reliability of phenomenon of repressed memories, not into creditability of particular memory). An inquiry into the reliability of recovered memories generally will comprise the first part of this burden. Further, because of the great possibility of suggestiveness in therapy, see, e.g., The Reality of Repressed Memories, supra at 526-27, if therapy or some other formal technique has been utilized in order to retrieve the memory -- or has been engaged in during the time in which the memory was retrieved -- then further inquiry is required to determine the effect of that process or technique upon the reliability of the resulting memory. Cf. Call for Limitations, supra at 512-14 (describing similarities between effects of therapy, hypnosis, and interrogation on memory).

In determining the reliability of a recovered memory, -- that is, whether the recovered memory is reasonably likely to be as accurate as ordinary memory -- the trial court should consider the following factors: (1) the level of peer review and publication on the phenomenon of repression and recovery of memories, see Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593; (2) whether the phenomenon has been generally accepted in the psychological community, see id. at 594; (3) whether the phenomenon may be and has been empirically tested, see id. at 593; (4) the potential or known rate of recovered memories that are false, see id. at 594; (5) the age of the witness at the time the event or events occurred, see Williams, supra at 1168; (6) the length of time between the event and the recovery of the memory, cf. Hall et al., supra at 130; (7) the presence or absence of objective, verifiable corroborative evidence of the event, see Meiers-Post v. Schafer, 427 N.W.2d 606, 610 (Mich. Ct. App. 1988); and (8) the circumstances attendant to the witness's recovery of the memory, i.e., whether the witness was engaged in therapy or some other process seeking to recover memories or likely to result in recovered memories, see British Psychological Society, Executive Summary: Recovered Memories § 2.1, at 9 (1995). Cf. Isely v. Capuchin Province, 877 F. Supp. 1055, 1064-67 (E.D. Mich. 1995) (parameters for admissibility of expert testimony).