11.27.2011

The Many Roles Of The Private Investigator In Investigating Child Sexual Abuse Allegations


By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
When a private investigator is assigned to an investigation where the investigator represents the alleged sexual offender, the investigator has accepted a major responsibility. The thought of most individuals in society is that representing an alleged sexual offender is the most unacceptable role an individual would accept.
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The Constitution is clearly written that an individual accused of a crime has the right to be properly represented. It doesn’t delineate the type of crime which an individual is entitled to. The majority of time private investigators are hired by attorneys on behalf of their client, the alleged sexual offender. The investigator after being told the nature of the crime will make the decision if this is the type of crime they want to investigate. The investigator who specializes in criminal investigations might accept this responsibility, but for the most part investigators do not want any part of investigating a sex crime.
There are many reasons why private investigators do not want to accept investigating a sex crime of any kind. These reasons are the same of those in the law enforcement field. Here are some of the reasons; investigators refuse to investigate an alleged sex crime:
                                                      1.        In child sexual abuse cases, 95% of those criminally charged of  
                                                             child sexual abuse molestation and rape are guilty of the crime. 
                                                            There are many arguments about what the exact percentage of 
                                                            false allegations are prosecutor. Those who conduct research in                            
                                                            this area of those falsely accused is 5-10%.
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2.      In child sexual abuse cases, most of the investigators at one time or at the time of employment have a child of the age of the alleged victim. They are incapable of being neutral and objective in their approach to defending a potential guilty client.
3.      In child sexual abuse cases, most of the investigators are uncomfortable with asking witnesses involved in the case with questions dealing with sex. The investigator must identify the witness’s specific knowledge about what they saw, what the alleged victim told them, and what the alleged sexual offender told the witness.
4.      In child sexual abuse cases, the thought of interviewing a child about being allegedly sexually assaulted is uncomfortable and something they have little to no training or experience in performing.
5.      In child sexual abuse cases, the investigator may have empathy for the alleged child victim; therefore, distracting the investigator from pursuing questions which may provide information about what specifically happened between the alleged child victim and sexual offender.
6.      The average investigator is comparable to law enforcement investigators in that they have little to no education and training in the field of investigating sex crimes. It is rare that a private investigator seeks out training i.e. workshops and seminars to learn how to interview child victim’s and/or investigate a potential sex crime.
7.      The average investigator does not have the adequate experience in how to competently and intellectually investigate allegations where their client may be the alleged sexual offender involving raping and murdering a child.
8.      The average investigator knows that sex crimes, especially those against children require a special understanding of the nuances and subtleties of how to investigate these types of crimes. Additionally, that in their experience it takes a special individual who can manage their emotions and thoroughly and completely conduct a fact-finding investigation.
9.      The average investigator who has limited training, education and knowledge about the many “motives” which are possible in child sexual abuse allegations may have difficulty in distinguishing what is true and what is false. Understanding why the alleged child victim disclosed the sexual assault at the time he/she did is valuable to understanding the allegations.
10.  The average investigator who has limited training, education and knowledge about how to utilize alternative hypothesis, may have great difficulty in recognizing an investigative avenue to pursue once evidence is uncovered which may change the direction of the investigation.
                                               11.  The average investigator generally does not have the education           
                                                      i.e. post graduate degrees in the area of child forensics, which
                                                      would assist them in understanding what things mean when          
                                                       finding specific evidence of a crime or innocence.
 So how does an average investigator who wants to, begin investigating sex crimes for the defense? The answer is complex and needs a thorough and complete future discussion. Criminal attorneys will not hire investigators who do not understand the defense concepts and strategies which are generally involved in sex crimes.
Obtaining the trust of a criminal attorney is to volunteer a certain amount of time shadowing his/hers current investigator; if the investigator will allow agree to it. There are many ideas and suggestions that need to be reviewed, evaluated and examined.
Tomorrow, I will delve into the nuances and subtleties of the role of the private investigator and what an investigator needs to do to become a special investigator i.e. one which investigates sex crimes. This subject is a very interesting subject and needs to be given the exposure it so desperately needs.

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