COM. v. DUNKLE
529 Pa. 168 (1992)
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Submitted May 6, 1991.
In addition to expert testimony meeting the tests of relevancy and the Frye standard of admissibility, expert testimony is admitted only when the subject matter is beyond the knowledge or experience of the average layman. When the issue is one of common knowledge, expert testimony is inadmissible. Commonwealth v. O'Searo,466 Pa. 224, 352 A.2d 30 (1976). It is understood why sexually abused children do not always come forward immediately after the abuse: They are afraid or embarrassed; they are convinced by the abuser not to tell anyone; they attempt to tell someone who does not want to listen; or they do not even know enough to tell someone what has happened. In the case sub judice, the expert testified that a "[m]ajor reason would be any threats that were made to the child." Also, she stated that "[t]hey also could not disclose for fear of embarrassment, for fear they are damaged in some way, they are not a perfect person." "[T]hey do not disclose out of fear of loss that they may have to leave the home, that someone within the home may have to leave them. . . ." All of these reasons
are easily understood by lay people and do not require expert analysis.
In Commonwealth v. Snoke,525 Pa. 295, 580 A.2d 295 (1990) we recognized that children are different from adults and may not appreciate the need to come forward:
Where no physical force is used to accomplish the reprehensible assault, a child victim would have no reason to promptly complain of the wrong-doing, particularly where the person involved is in a position of confidence. Where such an encounter is of a nature that a minor victim may not appreciate the offensive nature of the conduct, the lack of a complaint would not necessarily justify an inference of a fabrication.
525 Pa. at 303, 580 A.2d at 299. We have also recognized, however, that the reasons children come forward are perhaps not always innocent. In Commonwealth v. Lane,521 Pa. 390, 555 A.2d 1246 (1989), we stated:
The real question in matters concerning youthful complainants is whether the immaturity of the child occasioned the delay as opposed to a design to deceive. In determining whether or not the delay reflects the insincerity of the complainant, the maturity is merely an additional factor to be considered by the jury in deciding the question.
521 Pa. at 398-99, 555 A.2d at 1251. In reaching this conclusion, we noted that the reasons for the delay may be innocent, or they may not be innocent, but may include blaming another to protect a guilty parent, acting out of revenge prompted by dislike.