12.06.2011

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

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By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
The investigative ideas which a private investigator must consider during an investigation are one of organization, structure and success. It isn’t enough for the investigator to begin an investigation and stop whenever the feeling strikes them to move on to a new project. Instead the assignments the private investigator accepts he/she has to be committed from the beginning to the end, and then some.
Once the private investigator is hired to conduct the investigation there will be a period of review and preparation. The client will have a set of documents the investigator should review, document their thoughts about what investigative steps the investigator will eventually want to pursue and so forth.
The review process is called the investigative case analysis. Several items will be dealt with during the analysis process. The timeline of events is very important to create and then fill in the information as the investigator review each document. The document will provide much information about the dates and time of activities and then what the activity is that took place.
The witness contact database is as important as the timeline of events in that it identifies who was or has been involved in the case in chief. Sometimes the review of the documents will provide not only their names, but their date of birth, social security number, their addresses, telephone numbers and what relationship they have to the other witnesses and what was their role in the case in chief.
After the witness contact database is completed the investigator should move on to the case action plan which should have been created from the first document reviewed to the last. The first time an investigator reads a document there is this overload of ideas e.g. why did the potential witness do this or that; why did the police officer fail to advise the alleged perpetrator that they don’t have to give them permission to search their residence and so forth.
The case action plan is the backbone of the investigation. It isn’t enough to think about what should be accomplished during the investigation. Documenting the investigators ideas is an intelligent investigative step. Additionally, the investigator can prioritize what steps of the investigation should take place from the beginning to the end. Milestones can be documented and the case action plan should be re-evaluated after each significant investigative step.
The next step in the investigation deals with the review of any physical and/or biological evidence. Although this investigative step should be part of the case action plan, it has such great importance it needs to be examined and evaluated outside the scoop of the case action plan. What takes place in the other realms of the investigation may determine where the biological and physical evidence fits into the investigation.
After the review of the documents and the creation of the timeline of events, witness contact database and the case action plan, the next step in the investigation will be the collection of any other documents that may be an aspect in the case. If the investigation surrounds a murder, then the ‘Will’ of the deceased may be of great importance. Therefore, the investigator may have to take major legal steps in order to obtain this document. The investigator would work closely with the client’s attorney to obtain the document.
One of the roles of the investigator is to assist the client’s attorney whenever possible. The attorney will be a great sounding board when the investigator begins investigating the allegations which has been made against the investigator’s client.
The need to identify resources is a very important aspect of the investigation and one the investigator needs to locate and make use of it. Resources can range from medical records to professionals who have dealt with the witnesses to other investigations which may be taking place and/or have already been completed.
The many avenues an investigator can pursue are sometimes specific and other times general. Whatever the investigator is confronted with the decision of which avenue to pursue can always be re-examined before engaging in a specific direction.
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During the investigation the investigator needs to identify, create and evaluate any and all alternative hypothesis. The investigator will be confronted with new information and evidence which will determine what hypothesis is reasonable and logical. If the investigator can walk in the shoes of the potential witness this may provide a new perspective for the investigator to consider. The investigation will take the direction in which the information and evidence indicates it should follow. It is not enough to identify a hypothesis which has strength and may be the plausible explanation for why the allegations came forth and not do anything about it. The investigator must build upon this hypothesis and if it continues to gain strength as the investigator pursues finding the truth, than most likely the hypothesis will be the correct one.
Tomorrow, the many roles private investigators are exposed to will allow the investigator to become experienced. The exposure to each case the investigator works will allow them to become confident in their skills and abilities. We will continue trying to understand just what an investigator is responsible to perform once they accept an assignment and what value their investigation will have on the ultimate outcome of the case in chief.



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