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

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
“Never theorize before you have data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts”              
                                    Sherlock Holmes to Watson

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As a child how many times did you think about chasing that rainbow in the sky and finding the beginning and the ending? At the end of the rainbow legend states there is a pot of gold. Did you believe there was a small man wearing a green top hat and suit guarding this part of gold? In investigating a complicated child sexual abuse allegation how many rainbows did you feel like you were chasing?

Sherlock Holmes Museum
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In reality private investigators will find themselves chasing down many ideas, suggestions, tips, facts, theories and hypothesis. Most of the time there are no pot of gold and definitely no man wearing a green top hat and suit guarding it. However, instead of the man, the investigator will find either a fact or witness which will assist in possibly finding the truth.

How many trips down memory lane will provide an indication to the investigator that he/she is on the right road? It would be great if a warning light would come on with a fireball telling the investigator that he/she had hit pay dirt. It takes many methods and techniques in order to properly conduct a competent and intelligent investigation.
Too often an investigator is retained to follow-up what law enforcement accomplished during their part of the investigation. The private investigator with limited experience should be able to identify what law enforcement did properly and improperly. The areas the investigator can review what law enforcement did and did not do is found within what everyone calls the discovery.
The discovery is the paper work the prosecutor and law enforcement has put together to date about the specific case. This information is than provided to the defense attorney and the defense attorney turns it over to the private investigator. The first step the private investigator needs to perform is as follows:
1.      Organize the discovery into categories so documents can be located quickly.
2.      Review the discovery, identify and document anything that stands out during the review. The review may identify that the police failed to follow-up in interviewing potential witnesses who may have had information about the case in chief.
3.      Prepare an Investigative Case Analysis (ICA) which specifically requires the private investigator to identify who the players are in the case and what they did. Further identify the evidence obtained in the investigation and what law enforcement did with the evidence i.e. analyze it. The ICA breaks down law enforcements investigation, the strengths and weaknesses of the case and so forth.
4.      Prepare an Investigative Case Action Plan (CAP). The CAP is prepared along the review as investigative steps to accomplish during the investigators investigation. There are milestones along the investigation that needs to be identified and accomplished.
5.      Review the witness statements for content, context, quality, details, and what role the witness played prior to, during, and after the alleged crime. Further, the investigator must review the statement for consistencies and inconsistencies.
6.      Create a consistencies and inconsistencies interview chart which identifies the strength and weaknesses of the witness statements. Additionally, the investigator compares each witness statement against the other statements. The investigator should be looking for the facts of the case which resoundingly made sense and the information which made no sense at all. The problem with witness statements is they are only as reliable as the law enforcement investigator who interviewed the witness.
7.      Create a PowerPoint of the medical evidence which was obtained during the medical examination. Since child sexual abuse cases lack biological and physical evidence generally if evidence is located, it is located during the medical examination.
8.      If evidence is located such as biological or physical evidence the evidence may be sent to the State Laboratory for processing. The laboratory will attempt to identify any biological evidence which can identify the sexual offender. If it is physical evidence the laboratory will be examining the evidence for anything that would identify the sexual offender.
English: Plantation Pines, FL, June 26, 1998 -...
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The many above categories will identify what took place during the alleged crime. The need to dissect an investigation will be the first logical step to understand what aspects of the investigation needs further extensive investigation. Most law enforcement officers fail to perform backgrounds on the victims and witnesses in the case. The argument by law enforcement is the pedigree of those involved in the case has nothing to do with the case in chief.
This ignorance and lack of understanding by law enforcement speaks loudly about the lack of objectivity and neutrality law enforcement will from time to time demonstrate. It is important that the fact finding be conducted without bias and/or prejudice. Ignoring someone’s pedigree is like ignoring a major piece of evidence in the case in chief.
Tomorrow, the continuation of the role the private investigator can play in a child sexual abuse case will be thoroughly discussed. It is important as this series comes to a conclusion that the need to discuss the important aspects of the private investigator role and what they can do for their client is paramount.

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  1. It is good post.How many trips down memory lane will provide an indication to the investigator that like this.


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  2. This is really interesting post, you have made some good points there.

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All comments and feedback appreciated!

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