A comment by a spokesman for Cumberland Police Department in the April 23 story “Cumberland-Portland firefighter’s trial expected in May” is particularly worrisome: “… Police are hopeful, though not confident, that the alleged victims will not be asked to testify.”
The right to a trial by jury of one’s peers, guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment, includes the right to confront one’s accusers. Therefore it follows that the alleged victims should be required to testify, regardless of their ages. To allow them to avoid testifying would make a mockery of the judicial process on which our society relies.
There is an undeniable need for all accusers to know that they will face questioning in court concerning their allegations – which after all, once they are voiced, have the immediate effect of destroying the reputation and the fabric of an accused person’s life.
It is common knowledge that allegations of this nature have been based on untruths, proffered for reasons known to only the individuals who make them. Indeed it has been revealed over time that those who make them are upon occasion motivated by a desire to avenge some perceived or imagined slight to their psyche.
We would all do well to keep in mind the American legal cornerstone: Innocent until proven guilty.