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

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By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
It seems to me that at this time we need education in the obvious more than the investigation of the obscure.                                                                            Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

In this final article in a series of 24 previous articles the subject of law enforcement versus the private investigators has been discussed but not as thoroughly and completely as this article will discuss. In the beginning there is an alleged crime and law enforcement responds to it. What they do with it will determine how the private investigator will later respond it. Law enforcement operates by stringent policies and procedures. Protocols and procedures were set-up years ago and most current law enforcement officials who are assigned to the Special Assault Unit have no idea who authored them or why.

In the public sector there are a diverse set of professionals who can be retained to perform specific specialized steps for the defense as well as the prosecution. These specialized steps are:

Psychologists: The psychologist has the ability to perform many functions. Most of the time the function they perform the most is evaluating the alleged child victim to determine the competency of the child. If their decision is the child is not competent this raises a variety of legal problems for the prosecution depending in which state the evaluation took place.
The psychologists can evaluate the mental ability of the alleged sexual offender to assist his/her attorney in preparing for the criminal case. Most often the alleged sexual offender is sent to the state hospital where the evaluation will take place. If the offender can’t assist their attorney in the preparation of their case, the case will be delayed until such time he/she is capable of assisting his/her attorney.

Sexual Deviance Evaluator: The prosecution generally does not utilize a sexual deviance evaluator in the presentation of their case in chief. The defense will utilize the evaluator for several reasons:
1.      To demonstrate that the alleged sexual offender is not a sexual offender. There will be many tests which will be performed during the evaluation process in preparation of providing the defense with a report that the evaluation confirms the hypothesis that the alleged sexual offender does not have any of the characteristics generally observed in an offender.
2.      The defense will utilize the sexual deviance evaluator in trial to testify and inform the judge and the jury that the defendant does not have the characteristics of a sexual offender.

Medical Personnel: The physicians, ARNP, nurses and so forth maybe called by the prosecution to discuss the medical findings of the alleged child victim. Using the colposcope which magnifies the genitilia and then is capable of capturing the findings with this high intensity camera. These medical findings can be presented to the judge and jury for an explanation of what may have taken place. Sometimes a child can’t verbally describe what happened to them, therefore, performing a medical examination on the child and finding tears, lacerations, semen and so forth allows the evidence to speak for the child.
The defense may call a medical expert to counter the medical findings by the initial medical professional. Over the past four decades medical findings have come a long way in what specifically the medical findings mean. Over the years due to research and experience the medical profession have come together and learned what the medical findings truly mean.

Counselors: Sometimes the prosecutor will call a counselor to explain to a judge and jury about specific issues surrounding the alleged child victim. Those specific issues are:
1.      Behavioral changes in the child:
a.      Night Terrors
b.      Depression
c.       Schooling problems
d.     Bulimia
e.      Daydreaming
f.        Passive/Aggressive
g.      Wetting The Bed
h.      Demonstrates Fear of Men
i.        Anxiety – Crying and etc.
2.      Medical changes in the child:
a.      Soreness in the Genitilia
b.      Bladder Infection
c.       Sexually Transmitted Diseases
d.     Bleeding in the Genitilia
e.      Unexplained Bruises and etc.

Investigators: There are two types of investigators that are involved in the allegations of child sexual abuse. First, law enforcement investigators; and two, private investigators. Law enforcement investigators are responsible for the initial investigation, interviewing of the alleged child victim, witnesses and sexual offender. Moreover, the collection and analysis of biological, physical and medical evidence is the responsibility of law enforcement.
Private investigators conduct the follow-up investigation, generally retained by the defense to perform a fact-finding investigation. The only role which is different between law enforcement and private investigators is law enforcement is responsible for the identification, apprehension and incarceration of the alleged sexual offender. The private investigator does not have this responsibility or authority to perform such an act.

There are many other professionals who could have been listed in the above categories, but the above individuals are the primary experts called by the prosecutor and defense. It takes many individuals and professionals who are dedicated to investigating allegations of child sexual abuse. Most of the allegations are complex and need as many professionals as possible assisting both law enforcement and private investigators.

The private investigative world in the child sexual abuse arena is very interesting and for the most of the time a serious journey for all of those individuals who are involved. The investigation into if an alleged sexual abuse offender committed the crime is emotional not only for the alleged child victim, but the other witnesses involved in the case.

If an individual retains a private investigator to intimidate the alleged child victim or witnesses, than the client needs to be informed that this is not the role of investigator, nor will he/she participate in any type of harassment, intimidating, coercion, physical or verbal assaults and so forth. There are ethical rules and regulations which a private investigator must abide by. Failure to follow and abide by these rules simply means the investigator should be sanctioned for violating the laws, statues and so forth; if not, arrested for committing a crime.

This has been an exciting series to write about. Being a private investigator in today’s investigative world is worth selecting this profession and the roles and responsibility which come with it. The opportunity to assist others with trying to reach a different conclusion than the findings of law enforcement is challenging, competitive and rewarding. There are many valleys that a private investigator has to work through, but in the end, the valley’s turn into mountains and sometimes if the investigator is lucky, they may even touch the sky.


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1 comment:

  1. Great article. You're right that this area is one of the most difficult, but also amongst the most rewarding, roles that a private investigator will ever undertake. UK Private Investigators


All comments and feedback appreciated!

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