Attorneys for a Harford County man accused of sexually abusing his daughter are arguing that the girl, who has been diagnosed as having multiple personalities, should undergo more psychological tests to determine whether she is competent to testify against her father.
The case presents "an interesting dilemma," according to Judge Cypert O. Whitfill who is hearing the case in Harford County Circuit Court.
The girl may be mentally ill because she was abused, the judge said. But finding out whether she was abused may be difficult if her illness prevents her from sorting out the truth, he said, adding, "Sounds to me like a Catch-22."
Angie Eaves, an attorney for the girl, contends that another examination would be stressful for the child, now 10 years old. "It's too many evaluations and it's not clear at this point what that would yield," she said.
Psychologists have evaluated the girl four times, but the defense contends that none of the evaluations focused on her competency to testify.
The prosecutor, Assistant State's Attorney Diana A. Brooks, said she was not aware of any similar case in Maryland that depends on the ability of an alleged victim diagnosed with what is known as multiple personality disorder to provide critical testimony.
Brooks maintains that the different diagnoses of the girl do not agree. She has doubted whether the girl has multiple personality disorder.
The 54-year-old defendant has been indicted on seven charges, including second-degree rape, child abuse, sodomy and incest. The indictment alleges that abuse occurred in the father's home between the summer of 1987 and October 1990.
After several hours of testimony yesterday from a psychologist hired by the defense, Whitfill put off the rest of the hearing until Nov. 8, because the stenographer asked to leave after learning that her dog was put to sleep.
Lawrence J. Raifman, a forensic psychologist, testified that the girl's illness should not be minimized.
"My concern is . . . that she may not be reliable," he said.
Raifman recommended that the girl undergo a variety a tests, including conducting a mock trial, to determine whether she is capable of telling the truth and remembering specific events.
He explained that people with the disorder have trouble with their memory. They can experience "gaps" in their memory, he said, and they sometimes make up memories or "synthesize" them.
Raifman, who will conclude his testimony Nov. 8, was hired to review written medical records prepared from the evaluations of the girl.
He said one recognized expert in multiple personality disorder found the girl to be exhibiting three personalities, called "alters." One denied that any abuse occurred, he said, and another said it did occur. It was unclear from the testimony how the supposed thirdpersonality felt about the allegations.
Two of the alters answered to different names, he said. One alter, according to Raifman, was docile and demure. A second was knowledgeable about sex and ate constantly, he said. A psychologist called the third "the furious voice."
Another evaluation found the girl to have exhibited as many as 16 personalities, Raifman testified.
Quoting from one evaluation, Raifman said, the girl told a psychologist that she felt "weird, not crazy . . . like I can fly in space." He said people with the disorder often seem to be in a "daze" or exhibiting "trancelike behavior."
Raifman acknowledged that many people with the disorder create different personalities to escape from the trauma caused by some form of abuse.