11.17.2011

Futuristic Criminal Investigations-Part XX



Specializing In Forensic 
Child Sexual Abuse Investigations

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

"They, who have put out the people’s eyes, reproach them of their blindness."
Jerry Sandusky.jpg
Jerry Sandusky
In reviewing the Penn State child sexual abuse allegations against former player and assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, has been charged with a 40 criminal indictment for allegedly sexually abusing 8 young male athletes. It is still unknown how Sandusky, 67, had access to these young athlete children. Sandusky married and over the years adopted and raised 6 children, has stated he is innocent of the child sexual abuse crimes.

With the click of a button it would be great to identify all of the players and what they had to do with the child sexual abuse allegations. It is not enough to know that during the time span where Sandusky allegedly sexual assaulted young male athletes, but the “intent and purpose” of Sandusky’s behavior. One would be lead to believe that these allegations which have been made against Sandusky are black and white and that the alleged victims have come forward and are willing to cooperate.
This panacea situation leads us to the many questions which professionals who work in the investigative child sexual abuse industry are asking many questions, where few answers have been made available.

The disclosure process of children who are victims of child sexual abuse has demonstrated that the at most the process demonstrates that they are inconsistent. Child victims have great difficulty in telling others, especially their parents that someone inappropriately sexually touched them. The child victim’s thoughts and feelings that others are going to find out that they were sexually abused are simply to them “social suicide.” Others will see them as damaged goods and they fear that others will judge them and label them as such.

Child Victim.jpgThe reason children will not tell about the sexual assaults is because the sexual offender promotes his sexual assaults by telling the child victim that he/she will hurt either the child victim or a family member. These threats are a consistent theme throughout the relationship between the child victim and the sexual offender. The grooming phase continues throughout the relationship as the sexual offender wants to shower the child victim with promises, gifts and threats.

The present education about how to tell another person about the sexual assaults, which just occurred, tells the child victim that they can trust adults, their close friends, relatives their own age, police officers and so forth. Child victims have found this disclosure process to be difficult and confusing for them.

The future holds new, innovative and creative techniques on how to report child sexual assaults and whom to. To examine these new aspects let us review what research tells us about child sexual abuse disclosure.  In a large proportion of validated sexual abuse cases, the victim’s statement constitutes the only evidence that abuse has occurred (Rieser, 1991). This fact is not only known to the legal professionals who work in the child sexual abuse industry, but to the child victim and sexual offender. If the sexual offender knows where not to leave biological and physical evidence, the sexual offender knows that the limited proof that a sexual crime was committed, the better for him/her. The he said and she said becomes the focus of the child sexual abuse investigation and the lack of evidence.

There has been no study to date which can provide a specific reason why children disclose a sexual assault immediately after it occurs or until 20 years later as an adult or if ever. Still the credibility of the alleged child victim must be given significant weight with or without biological, physical and/or medical evidence. The reasons are, many children of ages seven and younger, generally do not have the mental capacity to develop a scheme where they are intentionally out to falsify what transpired between her/him and the sexual offender. The disclosure process carries weight and believability to others too is the child victim telling the truth or a lie.

Too often those who work in the child sexual abuse industry give too much credibility to the alleged child victim without conducting a fact-finding investigation. There is no excuse for a professional in hearing from a child who may have been sexually assaulted to instantaneously believe the child. There is no reason not to support and advocate the child’s emotional and physical well-being. However, the weight of the child victim’s testimony should not be placed with unquestionable doubt, before a professional fact-finding investigation.
Child victims may feel they are isolated from their support groups; therefore, disclosing they have been sexually assaulted may be viewed as the inability to protect themselves. Some child victims who do report the sexual assaults may later disclose because of the same reasons the child victim recants that they were abused. There is simply not a list of the dos and don’ts for children to remember in how to disclose that they were a victim of sexual assaults.
Police Officer.jpg
The future can provide parents, children and the professionals who work with child abuse victims on the correct and appropriate manner in which to report the sexual assault. Still the future can’t predict how each child victim will respond to being sexually assaulted. Education has increased the abilities for child victims to disclose the sexually assaults. Still child victims will decide when and where they will disclose the sexual assaults either tomorrow to a parent or never.

In the Penn State University alleged sexual abuse scandal many child victims may come climbing out into the open. Many of those who were under the age of 12 are now adults and hopefully will step forward and tell everything about the alleged sexual assaults they suffered at the hands of Sandusky.

The future will tell the professionals who are working on the Sandusky matter, how children who may have been sexually assaulted by him, need positive avenues to disclose the sexual assaults. The system may have been antiquated and non-responsive in the decade of the 1990’s, but this is the 21st century and those of us who work within the child sexual abuse industry will make a clear path for those who have been sexually assaulted to disclose that they have become a victim of sexual offenders who to date were unidentified and allowed to roam to sexually assault another child.

Tomorrow, I will continue the examination and review of what took place at Penn State University. As this article has demonstrated the disclosure process of those children who have become a victim of child sexual assault(s) need support and access to adults no matter what position they are in, to allow the child to disclose the sexual assaults. As a society for being many centuries old, we have a lot to learn about those who are victimized as a child. The question now is will all of the child victims who Sandusky allegedly sexually assaulted come forward.
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