11.24.2011

Futuristic Criminal Investigations-Part XXIV

Bush named Louis Freeh to the United States Di...
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Louis Freeh


Specializing In Forensic 
Child Sexual Abuse Investigations

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

Today, it was announced that former FBI Director and federal judge Louis Freeh has been appointed to head an independent investigation into the child sex abuse scandal that has been the headline news for the past two weeks. Jerry Sandusky, former player and assistant head coach at Penn State University was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting eight young male athletes.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23:  FBI Washington Fiel...
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Today’s news is very interesting as Freeh who was the FBI director from 1993-2001, has created his own business Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP and Freeh Group International Solutions. Allegedly Freeh has some professional i.e. former FBI agents, U.S. attorneys, prosecutors and experience in pedophilia and sexual predators. He intends to use these professionals to assist him with the investigation.

This is an interesting slough of professionals as none of them have any experience in dealing with multiple victims, witnesses and/or suspects. First, the FBI do not investigative child sexual abuse crimes. They investigate child pornography crimes, now turning their attention on cybercrimes. Former U.S. Attorneys would have the same limited experience. Prosecutors may have some experience in child sexual abuse crimes, but not dealing with multiple allegations.

The Sandusky behavior is not one in the child sexual abuse investigation industry which law enforcement and prosecutors deal with on a daily basis. As I have previously written, the profile of a serial sex offender may bring about 50-500 child victims, that average being 117 according to the new statistics. How many serial sexual offenders have these professionals dealt with in their lifetime as a law enforcement officer and now privately?

So where should Freeh take the investigation he has now taken responsibility for. The answer is complex and needs to be reviewed from many perspectives. First, the victims and witnesses who have been involved since 1990 to present need to be identified, interviewed and followed up at a later date, once other interviews have identified their role(s). Since Freeh and his group will be dealing with multiple witnesses at the initial stages of the investigation, they will receive numerous leads, motivations, opinions, perceptions, conclusions and so forth.

Jerry Sandusky, right, the former Penn State d...
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Jerry Sandusky (right)
The investigation has to be conducted in stages and since Freeh alleges he will have the investigation begin in 1975, without rhyme or reason, he will be limiting his investigators from seeking information prior to 1975. The theory that Sandusky is the only coach and the only coach who was a coach at Penn State University who sexually assaulted children may surprise those who are investigating the Sandusky sexual assault allegations. The environment of coaching and dealing with young athletes creates multiple avenues for access with young athletes.

The second aspect of Freeh’s investigation which needs to be performed is the policies, protocols and procedures utilized by Penn State police. In Freeh’s investigation they will find that the police, all of the police lacked the proper protocols and procedures in how to conduct a proper child sexual abuse investigation.

Most police departments across the world have little to no training in how to investigate child sexual abuse allegations. Additionally, if a police department has a policy and procedure on how to investigate child sexual abuse allegations, the assigned law enforcement investigator will most likely not have followed the structured protocols. The reason for this is the lack of knowledge, training and education by the law enforcement investigator.

Law enforcement agencies for years have failed to make child sexual abuse investigative education and training a priority. My prediction is that Freeh’s investigators will quickly determine that the Penn State Police Investigators were in a place they have never been before. It is obvious from the facts the media has published that things were done wrong. The incompetence and clumsy behavior by the police rings loud and will need to be dealt with.

The under lying motives that may be found when the Penn State Police are investigated is the unknown factor. There is no knowledge at this time that the police did not follow-up the allegations because of a relationship with them and Sandusky. Still this possibility exists and must be investigated by Freeh’s investigators.

Freeh’s investigation needs to move slowly and methodically. It will be a learning process for his investigative team. They will need to learn what to do with the information they receive from the witnesses they will have identified and interviewed. The information needs to be evaluated by more than one investigator, because the child sexual abuse allegations are complicated and if not handled properly by the investigative team, their investigation will be no better than that of the Penn State Police.

Freeh has stated that his investigation will be handled in a neutral and objective manner. My hope is this will be the manner in which Freeh’s investigative team handles the manner in which the Sandusky matter was handled.

Tomorrow, we will continue to exam the necessary steps and procedures Freeh’s investigative team are taking. The future methods and techniques need to be put to use. Use of computers, audio, video and digital devices and many other potential equipment which can enhance the investigation. There is a lot of work ahead of Freeh, but he needs to use strategic methods and techniques to achieve a successful investigation. 

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