In the era of the “MeToo” Movement and with the fear of COVID-19 spreading, we see that charges of rape (CSC) are on the rise in the state of Michigan. There are several reasons for the upswing in these charges. Overzealous prosecutions, the nuance of delayed reporting, more victims come forward, and an array of other issues all played a vital role in the amount of CSC allegations. One point that has been overlooked is Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a type of behavior disorder. It is mostly diagnosed in childhood. Children with ODD are uncooperative, rebellious, and hostile toward peers, parents, teachers, and other authority figures. They are more troubling to others than they are to themselves. ODD is typically diagnosed around early elementary school ages and stops being diagnosed around adolescence. Kids who have ODD have a well-established pattern of behavior problems. Symptoms include:
• Being unusually angry and irritable
• Frequently losing their temper
• Being easily annoyed
• Arguing with authority figures
• Refusing to follow rules
• Deliberately annoying people
• Blaming others for mistakes
• Being vindictive
All children can have these symptoms from time to time. What distinguishes ODD from normal oppositional behavior is how severe it is, and how long it has been going on for. A child with ODD will have had extreme behavior issues for at least six months. To learn more about how ODD plays a role in false CSC allegations, we spoke to three of the top criminal defense lawyers in our state.
Scott Grabel is the founder of Grabel and Associates, which is known for being the top criminal defense team in the state of Michigan. When asked about ODD, Grabel stated, “Many times with children that make accusations it is because of ODD. The problem that the courts have with the issue is that the behavior can appear to be healthy without the research for the period of the illness. The analysis of the disease is what’s critical when we see these cases. Even with delayed reporting cases, the issue that needs to be examined is what illnesses were present at the time of the allegations and are their prolonged effects during the current time.”
William Amadeo is a partner at McManus and Amadeo in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a Senior Associate for Grabel and Associates in Wayne County. Amadeo is known as the top trial lawyer in Washtenaw County and has represented over 100 clients in CSC defense. When asked about ODD, Amadeo said, “If you do your research on the issue and there is an ODD issue, you need to write a Stanway Motion. ODD is a gateway to false allegations. The victim may not even realize they are lying because the illness is so profound. The Officer in Charge (OIC) will rarely, if ever be diligent enough to look into this disease. As a defense lawyer, we need to be one step ahead of the game, and ODD could lead to a beneficial plea, a winning motion of an acquittal.”
Joe Brugnoli is one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Kent County, Michigan. When asked about ODD, Brugnoli stated, “I have had cases where the victim will change their story. When this happens, our job is to look for a motive. Sometimes the motivation can be to sabotage the defendant, and other times it may be unintentional. When a child has ODD for a prolonged period, we do see the need for medical records to be reviewed.”
While the charge of CSC is one of the worst crimes that can be levied against some, and severe punishment is required for those guilty of the offense, we see a different outlook on the crime. With CSC’s, the defendant is deemed guilty at the onset, and there is a burden to prove their innocence. This concept contradicts constitutional protections. When one is diagnosed with ODD, a false allegation may be unintentional, but the threat of losing one’s freedom is ever-present.