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

Jerry Sandusky, right, the former Penn State d...
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By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
The world of the private investigator in a child sexual abuse case can be one of great satisfaction for the investigator. The experts in the field of child sexual abuse understand that the sexual abuse allegations should not come down to the child said the sexual assaults occurred therefore it is true.
In the early 1970’s child advocates began a campaign that those children who disclosed that they had been sexually abused should be believed; no matter what. The mentality created many experts in the child sexual abuse industry to question this statement. The argument immediately turned to children are as reliable and credible as adults. After years of studies the comparison still sparks professional debate.
An investigator who has no education or experience in dealing with the mentality that all children should be believed may be surprised at the attitude of the adults in the social network who advocate for children. The investigator will quickly find that reality is sometimes not reasonable and logical.
The need for all professionals (except child advocates) needs to be one of neutrality and objectivity. This requires a mind-set which reveals a mutual understanding that children do not always tell the truth and adults do not always tell the truth, especially those adults who have committed a sexual assault upon a child.
Sometimes investigators are left to cleaning up an incompetent, unintelligent, and clumsy investigations initially conducted by law enforcement. Law enforcement officials are no different than anyone else when investigating an allegation of sexual assault. Emotions play a major part in leading a law enforcement investigator from viewing the allegation from a neutral and objective position to a bias and prejudice belief.
The cyclical nature of investigating child sexual assaults is difficult when 90-95% of the allegations are accurate and true. It takes a strong willed individual to stand back and evaluate and examine each disclosure made by a child, especially a child who is four years old and is capable of talking about how her uncle sexually assaulted her.
So how does the law enforcement official stay neutral and objective day in and out. The answer is simple, because it is the role and responsibility of being a law enforcement investigator. Missing clues that an individual is innocent in order to believe the child is telling the truth is simply incompetence and unconscionable at its best.
When the private investigator begins the investigation one of their first responsibilities is to review and decipher specifically what the law enforcement investigator did and why they did it. The private investigator needs to be able to comprehend what they are reading. It will not assist the client in explaining why the law enforcement investigator did what they did if the investigator can’t provide an insight into the investigative methods and techniques the law enforcement investigator utilized.
Further, it may identify major investigative steps which weren’t taken and if the private investigator doesn’t understand the policies, process, procedures and protocols of the law enforcement agency, then again the client suffers from the incomprehension.
Using common sense is a great attribute the private investigator needs to use when ascertaining what the timeline of events demonstrate took place between the alleged child victim and sexual offender. One of the best investigative tools is understanding how to create, analyze and apply a timeline of events to an allegation that a child was sexually assaulted. The timeline of events is a great tool to identify what roles each witness played from the time the child alleged abuse occurred until the time the alleged sexual offender was arrested.
If the private investigator is hired by the alleged sexual offender, the need for the alleged sexual offender to tell the truth to the investigator is vital to the investigation. If the client fails to tell the truth this does not allow the investigator to understand what happened between the alleged child victim and the client.
Most alleged sexual offenders will not come out and tell the investigator that they committed the sexual assault against the child. If the investigator understands the make-up of a sexual offender the investigator should be able to establish during their one on one meeting if the client is telling the truth, half-truths or simply lying about everything. Some clients enjoy expending their money on an investigation which may prove them innocent even though the client committed the sexual assault.
It takes years of experience in how to be sensitive to the client who hires his own investigator to prove that they did not commit the alleged crime. The statistics do not lie and the majority of those who are accused of committing a sexual act against a child did indeed commit the sexual act. How do you tell the client that they are lying and that they will be soon heading to prison? In a future article I will discuss what an investigator needs to do under these circumstances.
The private investigator needs to take the investigation slowly and methodically considering all of the alternative hypothesis. Considering these hypothesis is the best investigative method and technique the investigator can utilize in deciding which direction to take the investigation. If along the way the investigator finds information which exonerates their client they need to take this information to the client’s attorney, so the attorney can decide what to do with the information. Too often providing the information to the police or prosecutor proves to be unbeneficial to the client, as the police or prosecutor finds another route to accuse and prosecute the client.
Tomorrow, there is a need to dig deeper into the psychic of the child victim, witnesses and sexual offender. The private investigator who investigates child sexual assault cases will quickly find it difficult to conduct the investigation without acting as a counselor, medical personnel, lawyer and so forth. I am not advocating the investigator to misrepresent themselves at any time during the investigation. Witnesses are demanding of the knowledge they believe the investigator possesses, which is to assist the witness in ferreting out if the alleged child victim or sexual offender is telling the truth. In the witnesses mind, there is this tug-a-war happening in their mind and they are trying to decide if there is any merit to the allegations.

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