Investigative Psychology – What Does It Mean And How Can It Help Law Enforcement Investigations? Evaluating The IP System And Detective “A Fracture Can Shatter A Life” Part XI

          By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

In today’s society there are many crises which come up from time to time which are definitely unexpected. They may not be about you specifically, but they may be about someone you care about, love, are close to and so forth.

Your reaction to the crises may determine just how other individuals involved in the crises may react and respond to it. So what could be such an ordeal that the crises may cause you, a family member, a friend, a co-hort, a professional and etc., which turns a situation into a crisis? I focus on child sexual abuse allegations because this is what I do. I investigate child sexual abuse allegations where, “A Fracture Can Shatter A Life”.

This statement should tell a story about someone you know who has been accused of sexually abusing a child. Before you begin judging another individual who has just been accused of such a heinous crime, please take a step back and listen to me for at least the length of this article.

Anyone, including you, could be accused of sexually assaulting a child. This child may be known to you or unknown to you. Since statistics demonstrate that 90% of all child sexual abuse allegations come about with the child victim knowing the sexual offender, identification for the most part is not an issue.

So let us assume that someone you know has been accused of sexually assaulting a child. Immediately, Child Protective Services (CPS) and law enforcement officials are involved and on the move. It is the law that CPS and law enforcement become involved with a child who may have been sexually and physically abused and/or neglected.

There is a lot of confusion about what the role(s) are for these two agencies. CPS has no arrest authority; they are involved because their specific role by law is to protect the child and provide family services. Law enforcement has the specific role to investigate the allegations to determine if a crime was committed. Moreover, they have the responsibility to assist CPS because without law enforcement’s assistance, CPS has no powers to remove a child victim from their home. Even if CPS receives a court order to remove the child from the child’s home, they will need law enforcement to enforce the court order.

Law enforcement officials are rarely trained in how to investigate a child sexual and physical abuse and/or neglect case. Generally, law enforcement’s first-responder identifies all of the parties involved; determines what the general allegation(s) are; and what happened to the alleged child victim and alleged sexual offender.

Law enforcement officials are rarely trained to understand how to interview an alleged child victim, so they have to rely on CPS and/or a child interviewer to ascertain specifically what happened. The problem with CPS and the out sourcing of the child interviews agencies are they lack in understanding that they as professionals “Don’t have to believe everything that is told to them.” Utilizing common sense, along with  reasonable and logical standards is never so important as when questioning the alleged child victim and witnesses.

Sometimes children don’t tell the truth. Children sometimes get mad at the alleged sexual offender and report to the non-abuser i.e. the authority figure, mom, father, teacher, friend, relative and etc. that they were touched inappropriately. The problem with identifying the possible motive behind the allegation is law enforcement officials and CPS have a difficult time in getting to the bottom of the sexual/physical assault allegations.

So with the above information in mind, the alleged sexual offender’s life is going to take a turn for the worse as his/hers life is “A fracture can shatter a life”. Not only shatter a life, but many lives and possibly their jobs. You would think that since the stakes are so high for all of the parties involved, especially the alleged child victim and sexual offender, the criminal justice system would take steps to guarantee that safeguards are put in place to protect everyone from being ‘fractured’.

Everyday someone is going to be falsely accused of sexually assaulting a child. The percentage of false allegations has been disputed for the past four decades. Some studies demonstrate that 50% of the allegations are false to 10% of the allegations are false. This author believes the number is closer to only 5% of the allegations are false.

Still 5% is 1% too many and there needs to be a move by law enforcement officials and CPS to make sure their police officers and caseworkers are trained to the point where they are competent, intelligent, credible, reliable and the validity of the allegations is not questioned as it is in today’s criminal justice system.

No one in the criminal justice system can say with a straight face that the child sexual assault investigations are solid and without incompetence.  The hysteria still rages throughout the criminal justice system that children are being sexually assaulted at every street corner. The organizations who advocate for children have lost sight of reality and believe that men are the enemy.

It is difficult to advocate for justice for everyone involved in a child sexual abuse case. Too many people stand up and say a child wouldn’t lie; how could a child know about sexual themes? I would like to direct those people to a web site called, “Facebook”. The ages of those children who are surfing the Internet would blow your minds away.  I am not saying that “Facebook” is the problem, it is some of the participants who step over boundaries and the content is inappropriate. There are numerous social networks besides “Facebook” which have sexual inappropriate themes, photographs, sex talks and etc.

So the arguments of old, no longer make sense. Children learn sexual themes from their friends, family members, schoolmates, neighbors, adults, social networks, smart phones and etc. I interviewed a child the other day that was caught performing oral sex on his 4 year old brother. In an interview with the child I asked him where he learned how to perform oral sex and his response was “Ace Ventura”. If you recall there was an oral sex scene in “Ace Ventura”. 

It is sad that parents can’t keep their children from surfing the ‘R’ rated movies and now televisions shows which should be ‘R’ rated. Even some of the PG-13 movies have inappropriate sexual theme scenes.  Parents should monitor their children by using the ‘Parental Controls’.  If the parents don’t monitor their child’s behavior, who will?

There are two sides to every story.  Before law enforcement officials and CPS ruin the lives of individuals who may have not committed a crime they have been accused of, they should take a moment and analyze specifically what they know about how the sexual assault allegations came about; what improper motives may have created the allegations; what credibility do the child victim and witnesses have that the alleged sexual offender doesn’t have.

Law enforcement officials and CPS need to set investigative national standards which demonstrate competence and intelligence at every investigative step and milestone. Unless there is some type of emergency, the information about the sexual allegations needs to be documented by law enforcements first-responder and sent to the IP Detective for follow-up.

Tomorrow, I will continue the insight review of what goes on in most law enforcement agencies and CPS organizations. I will take you through a tour of what the evaluation is of the IP Detectives and ascertain how they deal with false allegations. This author has investigated over 5000 child sexual abuse allegations as a police detective and now as a forensic child sexual abuse investigator.

I have seen situations fester to a point of no return. Unfortunately, family’s lives are destroyed, simply because the professionals involved in the investigation let their emotions and feelings get in the way, where common sense should have led the way. Remember, although there are problems in the criminal justice system when it comes to investigating child sexual abuse allegations, this author believes that only 5% of the child sexual abuse allegations are false. Still as I stated above, this is 1% too many.

   Forensic Child Sexual Abuse Investigations Part 1 
   By: Lawrence W. Daly                                                             
  Webinar Time- September 22, 2011 1:00 pm -2:00pm
   Registration Fee - $99.00

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