ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A midlevel New York court has upheld allowing a therapeutic "comfort dog" to help a girl testify about sexual abuse. The Appellate Division rejected Victor Tohom's appeal of his 2011 convictions for predatory sexual assault against a child. Among his claims, Tohom says the golden retriever named Rosie made the 15-year-old unduly sympathetic to the jury.
The unanimous ruling by four justices says Tohom failed to show the dog's presence was impermissible under state law or impaired his right to a fair trial. Prosecutors acknowledged there was no statutory or case law allowing to dog to accompany the girl, though there was precedent for children testifying with a comfort item like a teddy bear. The 39-year-old Tohom is in prison serving 25 years to life.