11.28.2011

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


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By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
The many challenges a private investigator faces in an industry, which requires specialized education and training in all areas of investigations can be challenging once the investigator decides to accept the responsibility of investigating child sexual abuse allegations.  Some investigators specialize in surveillance, other investigators fraud and background information.  Whatever focus the investigator pursues, the investigator must have at least basic investigative fundamentals in order to be of any value in their specialized field.
In the field of child sexual abuse investigations private investigators can play many roles depending on their client, and what the client needs the investigator to do.  Most investigators are hired to perform backgrounds on the victim and witnesses.  Further, they may be retained to perform general interviews of the witnesses involved in the case.  If they are educated and experienced, they be asked to interview the alleged child victim.
Most criminal cases require an investigator who has prior law enforcement experience.  This experience provides the client with an individual who understands the laws and the elements of the specific laws.  Moreover, the investigator needs to know law enforcement policies and procedures and why law enforcement investigators did what they did.
It takes an innovative and creative investigator to work on child sexual abuse cases.  The reasons of being innovative and creative are generally not apparent when the investigator is assigned to the case.  However, once the investigator begins investigating the allegations it will become apparent that the imagination of the investigator is not only a necessity but a requirement.
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Many investigators do not want to be associated with performing an investigation of a child sexual abuse allegation.  There is this inherent belief that if you investigate a child sexual abuse investigation that your investigative practice including the investigator will be tarnished.
The reasons for this belief are complex as society as a whole does not believe that an alleged sexual offender should receive representation.  This attitude is prevalent amongst those who do not understand the Constitution.  When one tries to explain to a naïve and ignorant individual the reasons behind the Constitution and the need for such safeguards, people get upset at the thought that as a society we are expending an enormous amount of money on alleged sexual offender.  The attitude continues and the theory is, if the child victim states that the alleged sexual offender committed the sexual act, than there is no need for a trial.
The private investigator who has this belief system should not be accepting investigations of child sexual abuse allegations.  Further, the investigator should not be investigating criminal cases.  The need for the investigator to respect the Constitution is a must if they are going to investigate criminal cases.
Still many investigators accept the assignment of investigating child sexual abuse cases.  This is a mistake, as the client deserves a specialized investigator who is going to be diligent, competent, complete, thorough, and intelligent.  These characteristics are a must to apply to a child sexual allegation investigation.
If the investigator wants to become competent in investigating child sexual abuse allegations, it will take years to understand the ins and outs of what child victims do what they do, why there are limited witnesses and evidence in child sexual abuse investigations and so forth.
The investigator should pursue an education in the field of criminology and behavioral sciences.  These two fields deal with an understanding of what individuals commit crimes and the need to understand the etiology of why crimes occur.  In the process, the investigator should take classes, which deal with child development, child psychology, sexual offenders, and evidence of a crime.
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The work an investigator puts into receiving an education, specialized training, and the experience of shadowing an investigator who has extensive experience in investigating child sexual abuse cases will speak loudly about the character of the investigator.  The investigator must have the proper and correct attitude, as it will take many years to be the investigator their clients want to retain.  Again, this will depend upon the education and experience they have in the field of child sexual abuse.
The true value that an investigator receives over the years will pay dividends in the end.  The value of the investigator, who brings education and experience to the table, will generally be hired by the client.
The competition in the field of investigating child sexual abuse allegations is minimal, as there are few competent and intelligent investigators who are willing to work for alleged sexual offenders.
It takes a special individual who has the desire to pursue the truth.  A fact-finding investigation brings credibility to the role of the investigator.  Too often investigators who accept the responsibility of investigating child sexual abuse allegations are ridiculed, especially by law enforcement and the prosecutor.
When the investigator is able to demonstrate to others that the child sexual abuse allegations are false and deserve a re-look by law enforcement is worth it all to an investigator who stays with an investigation they know has credibility and integrity.
Tomorrow, I will continue to look at the many roles the private investigator plays in the child sexual abuse investigative world.  There are many facets which I did not cover today and need further exploration.  The decision to be an investigator who becomes a specialist in the child sexual abuse field may have a daunting task each time they accept an assignment, but if they do it, right the professional fulfillment is well worth it.

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