Local News

Concept of Legacy of Abuse Questioned

Posted Updated
Michael Boggess on the stand
RALEIGH — Convicted in the beating death of Wilmingtonstudent Danny Pence, Todd Boggess' sentence is being deliberated by thejury.

Boggess' attorneys doubtless hope the panel will be influenced by the substantial sexual and psychological abuse Boggess' father testifiedhe inflicted on his son over more than five years. Some studies indicate,however, that there is no statistical correlation between abuse and laterbehavior.

Dr. David Colvard, a psychiatrist in private practice in Raleigh, sayswhen attorneys inject such information into their arguments on behalf oftheir clients, they are simply trying to work the "sympathy" appeal.

Colvard told WRAL-TV5 reporter Mark Roberts that reliable studiesindicate a childhood of abuse does not routinely result in an adult whoabuses or otherwise harms others.

Child advocacy groups and many defense attorneys would disagree withthose studies.

But speaking as a psychiatrist who has reviewed theresearch literature on the longterm behavior of abuse victims, Colvardsays attorneys resort to such appeals to play on jurors' emotions, as a"play on the heart strings, as a sympathy plea."

Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.