Charged with molesting two young cousins, Michael Arena of Texas was summoned to a psychologist to measure his sexual attraction to children. The test required the 16-year-old to click through images of swimsuit-clad people of various ages while the computer secretly measured how long he viewed each photo. The results, said a prosecution-hired psychologist, said Arena was a pedophile who was a “high risk” to strike again, says the Austin American-Statesman.
Prosecutors cited the test in Arena’s 1999 trial, urging jurors to choose prison to protect children from a teen “diagnosed as a pedophile by an expert.” The jury responded with a 20-year sentence. Now 29, Arena still has 7½ years left on his sentence. “Since the trial, his accusers have recanted, saying they lied about being sexually assaulted at the urging of their mother, who was embroiled in a bitter custody battle. Troubling details about the psychological test also have emerged, prompting Arena’s lawyers to pursue an appeal designed to gain his freedom based on innocence or grant Arena a new sentencing that excludes a psychological test that defense lawyers deride as junk science. The Texas Supreme Court is weighing both requests, which are opposed by prosecutors.