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October 31, 2013

Psychologist says it’s possible that witness filled in memory gaps with fabricated events

(Continued)

NORMAN —

McCaffrey testified that sometimes confabulation comes from actual experiences, whether it’s from movies or things they’ve heard or seen.

Typically with confabulation, the person couldn’t sustain the lie because they would confuse the confabulated details, he said.

Esplin said when important events in a child’s life occur, they think back on them, relive them; that helps consolidate the memory and keep it intact.

During the forensic interview, the girl reported she reflected a lot about the incidents, such as how to tell someone, how to come up with a solution, expressing worries about what would happen to Pellebon or Pellebon being offended if she told.

However, she also said she felt safe at home, Esplin testified.

He said children ages 6-10 are less likely to confabulate, but the risk of confabulation increases with adolescents, the child’s interest in sex and if the child has been exposed to sexually toned material.

Since the girl’s cognitive age is between 7 and 9, defense attorney David Smith asked whether the girl’s hormones would still be the same as a 15-year-old’s. Esplin replied, “yes.”

Descriptions of the girl’s behavior from other parents indicated she had poor physical boundaries, Esplin said.

For example, when she would sit on another male’s lap and she would open her legs. However, it’s hard to tell what her motivation was or if she had sexual intent, he said.

Esplin expressed several concerns with the girl’s forensic interview when she disclosed she had been sexually abused. The girl clearly responded about two incidents in Pellebon’s bedroom but later discussed a third incident in his shower that was confusing, he said.

She wasn’t sure if she was asleep or woke up as the alleged abuse was occurring, he said, adding that an altered state of consciousness makes it harder to firmly establish that something actually happened.

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