Futuristic Criminal Investigations-Part XXII

Specializing In Forensic 
Child Sexual Abuse Investigations

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

Bernie Fine Photo.png
Bernie Fine
The Pandora’s Box opened widely at Penn State University as child sexual abuse allegations against former player and assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, 67 surfaced.  Mr. Sandusky allegedly sexually assaulted eight young male athletes. Today, the box became wider as two individuals at another university, Syracuse University, have come forward and alleged that the basketball assistant coach, Bernie Fine, sexually assaulted them.

Law enforcement across the country needs to be prepared as true and false allegations will be hot and now be made against head coaches, assistant coaches, staff and so forth, and multiple reports of child sexual abuse allegations will again be on the rise. No one will be protected from an individual coming forward and telling law enforcement and the media that a coach from pop-warner football to college soccer sexually assaulted them.

The problem with the future sexual abuse allegations to come forth is law enforcement is not properly prepared i.e. trained, educated and/or experienced. Currently, there is no training being offered across the United States for law enforcement and private investigator’s in how to handle a multiple victim, witness and suspect complex child sexual abuse case which may be a decade delayed, reference when and where and by whom. By whom may be a relative to a college coach as which happened in Penn State University and Syracuse.

So how does law enforcement currently respond to an allegation that allegedly decades ago a coach sexually assaulted not only one child but multiple? Does law enforcement understand the motivation for those individuals to come forward to authorities that when they were young, their coach, which they were playing a sport under, took them to an isolated area and sexually assaulted them?

In 1991, this author wrote an article called, “Opening The Doors To The Past: Decade Delayed Disclosure Of Memories Of Years Gone By” (The Champion). The theme of the article dealt with the repressed memories which therapists, counselors and law enforcement were dealing with, as individuals were coming forth and disclosing to these individuals and groups that they had been sexually assaulted decades before. I termed the phenomenon “Decade Delayed Disclosure” (DDD).

I identified what investigative steps law enforcement investigators and private investigators should take. Let us examine what I wrote approximately 20 years ago and have since been utilized by investigators worldwide.

A Proper Investigative Approach (Opening The Doors Of Years Gone By, 1991)

We wish to underscore the fact that there is a difference between alleging a recent act of child abuse versus alleging sex abuse of years gone by. The latter, by necessity requires new investigative techniques not yet perfected. Since there are very few protocols of how to investigate child abuse allegations in general, the even more specialized area of DDDs definitely needs a tremendous amount of careful study and research. Some of the investigative steps that we have found useful in decade delayed adult allegations of child abuse are listed as follows:

1.      Identify and interview the individuals who would have been in the alleged victim’s and perpetrator’s environment at the time of the alleged abuse.
2.      Identify any behavioral problems that are generally associated with abuse as a child.
3.      Identify and obtain any and all medical records of the alleged victim.
4.      Identify and contact the authorities at prior schools attended by the alleged victim as a child, for records and potential leads.
5.      Identify behavior of the alleged perpetrator that would generally support or not support pedophilic behavior.
6.      Interview other female/male children, now adults, who would have had contact with the alleged perpetrator during the alleged time frame to determine if they had any inappropriate contact with the alleged perpetrator.
7.      Identify the alleged perpetrator and any non-abusers who may have lived in the house with the alleged victim; interview all relevant parties.
8.      Identify police records for any criminal activity by the alleged perpetrator.
9.      Identify any drug or alcohol use by the alleged victim and/or perpetrator.
10.  Identify mental health records for the alleged victim from child to adulthood.
11.  Identify and interview individuals the alleged victim may have had intimate relationships with from adolescence to adulthood. Interview them with reference to abnormal behavior and sexual problems.
12.  Identify the “Origin of the Disclosure” to determine if there is reliability to the alleged acts. It is critical to determine the exact origin of the disclosure and all of the events surrounding it.
13.  Identify and interview the counselor to determine if “decade delayed disclosure” is something that he/she seems to advocate or specialize in, or whether she/he has a strong bias toward DDD.
14.  Identify the counselor’s memory enhancement and stimulation techniques.
15.  Identify if the counselor used video or audio-taped sessions, and if notes were taken (and still exists).
16.  Identify if there have been other counselors who have previously discussed child sexual abuse with the alleged victim and what the alleged victim disclosed to each of them.
17.  Identify what secondary gains the alleged victim may have acquired from making the disclosure.
18.  Identify the alleged victim’s circle of friends and determine if any of them are in treatment/counseling for being an alleged or actual victim of sex abuse.
19.  Identify if there have been any problems or discord recently or in the past with the family member who is being accused and note if this plays a part in the allegations.
20.  Identify the alleged victim’s work history and determine if he/she has alleged any sexually inappropriate actions against a co-worker or a prior employer.
21.  Identify any recent relevant television shows, books, educational workshops, seminars and other resources to which the alleged victim may have been recently exposed to.
22.  Identify the entire alleged victim’s and suspects past employers and determine if they provide insurance. Subpoena insurance records to Identify mental health providers. This may lead to other mental health providers. This may lead to other mental health issues or information regarding related or unrelated prior abuse disclosures.

The criteria I have created and suggested that law enforcement investigator’s and private investigator’s should utilize, provides a foundation for understanding specifically what sexual assault allegations are valid and which are not. Finding the truth is another issue which needs to be addressed by all investigators. Sometimes the sexual assault allegations have some truth to them and sometimes they are false.

It takes a seasoned investigator who has received advanced education and training to develop a work ethic which brings about positive and successful results. Sometimes there are questions where there are no answers. Still it has been my experience in investigating over 5000 child sexual abuse cases over the past 29 years, that if the investigator who is responsible for fact-finding the allegations, keeps an objective, non-bias and neutral approach will find that those complicated investigative questions will develop many answers.

The law enforcement investigator or the private investigator must utilize alternative hypotheses to clearly understand the motive of the individual coming forward disclosing alleged child sexual abuse which happened sometimes decades ago.

Tomorrow, I will continue discussing what the future holds in reference to new methods and techniques for law enforcement and private investigators in investigating child sexual abuse allegations. The future holds many new ideologies, resources and unique ideas which will assist the investigator in ascertaining the truth. The future investigator must receive the advanced training and education necessary to be effective. It is important that as the Pandora’s Box widens with the ever new sexual abuse allegations that society can rely upon law enforcement officials to have the best investigator investigating the complicated and decade delayed disclosures
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