In the Interest of C.R.O.
Juvenile Law Center’s brief in this case, filed on behalf of C.R.O., then a minor, argues that youth should not be forced to incriminate themselves while undergoing court-ordered sex offender treatment.
C.R.O. was placed at a treatment facility after he made voluntary, counseled admissions, in court, to committing felony sex offenses against three children. The facility’s treatment model emphasizes that it is essential for youth to disclose previously unidentified victims—at all times, the facility staff exerted enormous pressure on C.R.O. to disclose. Ultimately, C.R.O. made an incriminating disclosure about offending a fourth, previously unidentified victim to the treatment facility therapist, resulting in a report by a county investigator to both a law enforcement agency and the district attorney. C.R.O. was charged with new felony sex offenses arising out his disclosures to the therapist and the county investigator.
At no time while questioning him did either the facility therapist or the county investigator advise C.R.O. of his Miranda rights or obtain a valid waiver of those rights. Nor was C.R.O. told that he could consult with his parents or his attorney prior to being questioned.
Because of these factors—as well as the fact that the United States Supreme Court jurisprudence holds that a juvenile’s age is relevant in determining the voluntariness of youth confessions—Juvenile Law Center urged the Superior Court to uphold the trial court’s ruling that C.R.O.’s statements were not voluntarily and knowingly given.
Juvenile Law Center Associate Director Lourdes Rosado argued the case before the Court on July 24, 2013, in Philadelphia.
On January 3, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Eastern District affirmed the juvenile court's order, concluding that C.R.O. was in custody and subject to interrogation by the county investigator, who was required to provide Miranda warnings to C.R.O. because her questions elicited incriminating responses from C.R.O. that formed the basis for the prosecution.
On August 13, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined to allow the Commonwealth’s appeal.