CANTON — A Long Island clinical psychologist specializing in child and adolescent trauma, including child sexual abuse, took the stand in St. Lawrence County Court as part of a hearing to determine whether his testimony would be allowed in for the child-rape and sexual-abuse trial of Lawrence L. Robinson.
Robinson’s attorney, Edward F. Narrow, filed a motion to keep the expert testimony of Dr. Donald J. Lewittes out at trial, questing the relevancy of his testimony.
A witness for the prosecution, Dr. Lewittes’s testimony would pertain to information in his field of work, including group behavior and psychological concepts related to children who were victims of sex crimes.
Dr. Lewittes told Chief Assistant District Attorney Jason M. Marx, who is prosecuting the case with ADA Sasha Mascarenhas, that he was not familiar with any aspect of the case except for his professional relationship with Mr. Marx, Ms. Mascarenhas, and Mr. Narrow.
While Dr. Lewittes said he had not previously reviewed any documentation in the case and did not want anyone to believe that he had an opinion, personal or professional, regarding it, Mr. Narrow did hand him a copy of the charges against Robinson during the hearing and told him the names of the two individuals accusing Robinson of the crimes.
“I think it would be fair to say that I have absolutely no information about whether or not anything I could talk about would have any relevance whatsoever to those two individuals you just named,” Dr. Lewittes said. “I don’t know that I can help the finders of fact, in any way, shape, or form be more successful in their charge . . . but to inform them about information that they don’t previously have an understanding of.”
Without any physical evidence, a blood test or DNA, Dr. Lewittes said that there is no clinical tool to allow a clinician the ability to distinguish a valid claim of child sexual abuse from one that is based on deception of fantasy.
Robinson, 59, a former Potsdam man who now lives in Morristown, has maintained his innocence and previously turned down an offer to plead guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual assault in St. Lawrence County Court in return for a 10-year prison sentence.
A former employee of Northern New York Newspapers, Robinson is charged with four counts of felony first-degree sexual abuse and one count of felony first-degree rape.
If convicted on all counts, St. Lawrence County Court Judge Jerome J. Richards said Robinson faces up to 53 years in prison but would only have to serve 42 to 43 years.
No trial date has been set, and the judge is still working on a decision on whether to allow evidence of alleged prior uncharged crimes or bad behavior in at trial.
Robinson remains released under probation supervision