A psychologist told a Rockland County judge Wednesday that two girls allegedly raped in their Ramapo home by four boys in June would be traumatized if they had to confront their attackers in court.
Dr. Jamie Greene took the side of Rockland County prosecutors, who are urging Family Court Judge Sherri Eisenpress to let the girls -- ages 14 and 12 -- testify via closed-circuit TV, with their words and images piped into the courtroom.
"It is my professional opinion that the stress of appearing in an open courtroom setting for both girls would be extremely difficult, overwhelming and could potentially be injurious," Greene testified.
Eisenspress is expected to rule Thursday on whether to grant the prosecution's request; testimony also is expected to start Thursday.
The four boys -- three 13-year-olds and a 12-year-old -- could be locked up until their 18th birthdays if found guilty of rape.
Prosecutors say the four Chestnut Ridge Middle School students broke into the girls' home on June 11 and raped them repeatedly during three days while taking turns as lookouts.
Greene, who practices in Mount Kisco, interviewed each of the girls for 2 1/2 hours during two days in July.
She said both have been haunted by nightmares and thoughts of suicide since the attacks.
The older girl is particularly "fragile," Greene said, because she had suffered sexual abuse by a relative in recent years.
To cope with the stress of that attack, the girl repeatedly cut herself, beginning in the sixth grade, Greene said. The girl's younger sister noticed the cuts last year and alerted a school guidance counselor so the older girl would get medical attention, Greene said.
"It's a form of trying to cope with emotional distress," Greene testified.
The older girl became depressed and angry and beset with worry after classmates talked about the pending allegations on Facebook, Greene said.
"She tries not to talk about it and just wants it to be over," Greene said.
The younger girl is worried for her sister and doesn't want to face her attackers in a courtroom. She remains frightened by memories of the attacks, Greene said.
"She heard her sister screaming," Greene testified. "She didn't know what to do ... She was afraid she would be in trouble. She didn't want the boys to be in trouble but she didn't want this to happen."
Lawyers for the boys are expected to cross-examine Greene on Thursday morning.
Attorney Larry Gantt, who represents one of the 13-year-old defendants, says it wouldn't be fair to his client to let the girls testify via TV. He and attorneys for the other boys want to be able to cross-examine the girls in open court.
"My client has a constitutional right to confront his accuser," Gantt said outside the courtroom.
The defense lawyers are expected to question the girls about emails and Facebook postings to friends after the attacks. The defense lawyers have said there is evidence the girls knew the boys from school and willingly allowed them into their home while their parents were out. The 12-year-old boy's attorney said Tuesday he likely will put the boy on the stand to testify that the girls were willing participants.