12.20.2012

Today’s Investigative Special Report – December 20, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “ Clean Your Lens - Rise Above The Investigative Distortions Which May Be Blocking Your Vision - Investigating Child Sexual Abuse Allegations?”



Among more than 1,400 adult females, childhood...
Among more than 1,400 adult females, childhood sexual abuse was associated with increased likelihood of drug dependence, alcohol dependence, and psychiatric disorders. The associations are expressed as odds ratios: for example, women who experienced nongenital sexual abuse in childhood were 2.93 times more likely to suffer drug dependence as adults than were women who were not abused. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
The word Astigmatism is not a common word used in a conversation nor could most people if asked would be able to spell it. Astigmatism has relevance when it comes to investigating child sexual assault allegations. Although a medical term, an investigator if intellectually capable will be able to parallel how they have any commonality and how understanding it is of benefit to law enforcement.
According to Web-MD defining what exactly is Astigmatism is as follows:
Astigmatism is a condition in which the cornea, the transparent layer that covers the front part of the eyeball, is not symmetrical. The cornea bends or refracts light rays to focus the light onto the retina in the back of the eye, but when it doesn’t cover the eyeball evenly, the light rays are not focused on a single point. The result can be blurry vision.
The definition provides some insight into how it relates to an investigation which becomes distorted for many reasons. These reasons may be:
1.      The law enforcement officer has lost sight of his responsibilities of his role as a fact finder.
2.      The law enforcement officer has lost sight that the investigation was to be performed in an objective and neutral manner.
3.      The law enforcement officer has lost sight that there are more than one hypothesis which should be considered when an allegation of child sexual abuse has been made.
4.      The law enforcement officer has lost sight that the manner in which he conducts his interview of the alleged child victim may demonstrate his bias and prejudice in his approach to the case. Bringing about questions of the credibility and reliability of the child’s testimony. This further questions the ability of the officer to perform the investigation in such a manner that outsiders looking in have doubts about his competence and intelligence.
5.      The law enforcement officer has lost sight that there are two sides to an allegation and that it is important to listen to both of them without coming to a conclusion prior to obtaining all of the information.
6.      The law enforcement officer has lost sight when his interrogation methods and techniques become accusatory instead of investigative in nature. Although this is generally the preferred style of interrogating a perpetrator, in sex abuse cases, the investigator needs to approach the interrogation with a soft approach at the beginning, then escalating to a confrontation type style.
7.      The law enforcement officer has lost sight of the investigation when he alleges crimes occurred that the facts and evidence collected do not support.
8.      The law enforcement officer has lost sight of the investigation when he becomes personally involved turning his role as an investigator into being that of an advocator. This is a common occurrence as everyone wants to be a supporter of children whom may have been sexually assaulted. This is not his role, his role is to keep his attitude and state of mind in the center, until such time the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that it is more than likely that the perpetrator committed the crimes which have been alleged against him. Commonly if a child states that a specific individual sexually assaulted her the weight given is viewed as credible and reliable without a competent and intelligent investigation occurring. The old saying that the investigator has placed the cart before the horse is fitting. This ideology provides the opportunity for those who commit crimes against children to be freed to assault other children or to put men/women into prison for crimes they didn’t commit against children.
9.      The law enforcement officer has lost sight of the investigation when the facts become blurry and foggy and he is incapable of finding his way back to the facts and evidence in a clear manner. This generally occurs when the case becomes complicated and the officer is incapable of doing investigative tasks which are complicated and more than that which is obvious.
10.  The law enforcement officer has lost sight of the investigation when the investigator suffers from investigative refractive errors i.e. the investigator cannot properly see the facts and evidence of the case as a whole because the light isn’t sufficient enough for the investigator to evaluate and examine what the case presents. Failure to be able to observe the information obtained by the investigator properly, the investigator must use corrective investigative methods in order to consider what the next investigative Case Action Plan (CAP) will be.
As seen above Astigmatism’s definition does parallel the ability for a law enforcement investigator to be presented with a set of investigative circumstances and how they need to react to them. The reaction of the investigator is so important to properly investigate the allegation as the investigator will have the opportunity to see clearly.
The evaluation and examination of the facts and evidence comes full circle when the investigator takes the time to be cautious and careful. Sometimes an investigator will stumble and fall as they failed to perceive what was coming in reference to the information they receive from witnesses and the evidence.
The investigation gains strength for the investigator in knowing what steps are taken when investigating an allegation of child sexual abuse are the proper and correct investigative steps. This strength brings about clarity for the investigator which allows him to predict and plan how to continue building their case. However, this does not mean that the evidence will prove that a crime did or didn’t occur. Instead the results will assist the investigator in determining what the truth is.
Wipen’N Clear are alcohol swabs which an individual may use to clean their glasses. The dust, debris, and clutter which the lens picks-up can be cleaned away by using specific tools such as the swabs do. The investigator also utilize specific cleaning tools either physically or visually to also clean and clear the way so potential physical, trace, biological, and direct testimony evidence can be located, identified, collected, stored, and later analyzed.
Sometimes no matter how things appear to a well-educated, trained, and experienced investigator sometimes the wrong diagnosis will occur because instead of basing their findings on the facts and evidence the officer relies too much on his intuition. Intuition is very important in an investigation because sometimes this may be all an officer has available to them during an investigation.
Even though an investigator is capable of clearing the obstacles and barriers in their way during an investigation doesn’t indicate they didn’t attempt to pull out all the stops in order to find the truth. Sometimes competent and intelligent investigators who are complete and thorough can’t reach a positive and successful conclusion. It happens from time to time and when it does the officer must be conscience to tell others of his findings. Things may be blurred from the beginning, but if the officer is patient and utilizes the proper tools to clear the way and obtain the proper light in order to see and determine if a crime did or didn’t occur.

Lawrence W. Daly
206-650-0229
Kent, WA



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