THE FACE OF JUSTICE

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Legal correspondent Adam Cohen says a Massachusetts ruling today may influence whether childrenmust face down people they have accused of sexual abuse in court. Superior Court Judge Robert Barton decided that Violet Amirault and Cheryl Amirault LeFave, both in jail since 1987, will be retried because the children they may have abused never had to face them while testifying. Courts often make allowances for children, Cohen says, but Barton's ruling, which follows five failed appeals by the women over eight years, "reflects a heightened concern about the veracity of sexual abuse charges that rely on children's testimony. People increasingly worry that children are, in effect, coached to describe events that simply didn't happen."