Today’s Investigative Special Report – December 24, 2012 “Dealing With Today’s Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “Coaching - In Child Sexual Abuse Allegations?”

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
Child Abuse Conf. BANNER 10 29 12
Child Abuse Conf. BANNER 10 29 12 (Photo credit: pennstatelive)
An allegation of child sexual abuse has just been made against a man who lives in a middle class neighborhood. He is a well-known business man, is married, and has four children who range from 6-15 years of age. The man attends church at least three times a week, appears to be happily married, and the children in the neighborhood enjoy spending time at his home, sometimes spending the night.

One of his daughters, he has two, had a sleep over and everything seemed to go well, until one of the 12 year-old girls, upon returning home after the sleep over, told her mother that the father of her friend, the family man, church going, happily married, great man, touched her on her shoulders with his hand and this made her feel uncomfortable.

The mother reacted negatively to this news and began questioning her daughter. The first series of interviews between mother of the daughter lasted the entire day with breaks to go to the restroom, get something to eat and drink, and answer the telephone when someone was calling to talk to the young lady.

The next day the same scenario continued. In the meantime the mother of the alleged victim began making telephone calls to child advocate organizations, law enforcement, counselors, friends, family members, and anyone else who would listen to her. She was simply outraged that someone had touched her daughter in the shoulder area. At times her mind would race and she found herself visualizing what her daughter went through expanding the touching to a greater extent than what her daughter had disclosed.

Stop here and take a deep breath and try to slow things down. If it was your child and she came home and told you that the father of her daughter’s friend had touched her on any part of her body, what would your reaction to be? It would seem reasonable and logical that you would want to explore with your daughter exactly what happened. Probably you are not a forensic child sexual assault interview expert therefore there may be the possibility that some of your questioning may be leading and suggestive. This could be problematic for many reasons. These reasons are as follows:

1.      If your daughter has been sexually assaulted by the man then your questioning may provide your daughter with the opportunity to disclose “exactly” what happened. If this is the case you will need to stop the questioning, call the police and let a professional do any further questioning.
2.      If your daughter wasn’t sexually assaulted and you are not satisfied with her answer, because when you were young, the man who lived in your neighborhood had sexually assaulted you but you never told anyone. You think at this point that your daughter isn’t telling you everything because she is full of shame and guilt, even though if the allegations are true she may not want to disclose it. Just like it was when you were sexually assaulted.
3.      If you can’t determine if your daughter was or wasn’t sexually assaulted maybe waiting to talk to your husband would be the next positive and successful step you should take. Your daughter and your husband have an unbelievable relationship and if she was touched then maybe she might tell him “exactly” what happened.
4.      After your husband has met with your daughter and she told him the same thing you were told you may want to take it to the next step and have her interviewed by a professional. One of your thoughts should be is this event about your daughter or about the unresolved sexual assault you went through as a child. This question needs to be considered as sooner or later someone is going to ask what are you putting your daughter through. Moreover, why are you doing this?

Someone looking from the outside in may wonder if you have become a coach, coaching your daughter into disclosing a sexual assault that didn’t happen. If this is the case then the alleged trauma your daughter went through will be multiplied many times. So if this is true and you have become a coach, what type of coach have you become?

1.      Purposeful Coach: This is the type of coach which has a plan and coaching the child into saying things that are untrue benefits and assist them in accomplishing their goals.
2.      Intentional Coach: Coaches a child because they intend to cause as much trouble for the alleged perpetrator as possible. The intent has many motivational factors behind the allegation.
3.      Unintentional Coach: Coaches a child without thinking about what they are doing. Maybe seen as causing an allegation because of their negative feelings against the alleged perpetrators.
4.      Progressive Coach: Is similar to the “Intentional Coach” except this coach progressively begins coaching the child at an early age and eventually the child makes a false allegation.
5.      Silent Coaches: Is the most sinister coach as they intentionally coach the child in such a way that the child has no idea they are being manipulated. This type of coach can be seen in the child who has been sexually assaulted and the adults in their environment coach the child to not disclose the abuse.

The motive to coach is not always apparent and therefore needs to be examined and evaluated. Here are some motives to coach a child into saying that an individual had sexually assaulted them:

1.      Revenge
2.      Secondary Gain
3.      Retaliation
4.      To get the alleged perpetrator in trouble with law enforcement for something they didn’t do
5.      Manipulation
6.      Control
7.      Coaching creates results
8.      To accomplish specific goals
9.      Allows an investigation to take place against an alleged perpetrator knowing the allegation is false. This false allegation will cost the perpetrator financially, emotionally, effect relationships, and create unbelievable anxiety and stress.
10.  Coaching creates results

Depending on the type of circumstances, the type of coach and the hidden motives for why an adult would coach a child to say that something sexually occurred when nothing happened is simply evil and unconscionable. Law enforcement in investigating any and all sexual assault allegations needs to be thorough and complete in determining if there has been any coaching of any kind when a possible disclosure occurred. The source to determine if coaching occurred will never come from the coach. However, if the alleged child victim is properly, competently, and intelligently interviewed then the fact finding process may uncover the truth.

The many questions which you may be asking is why would someone want a child to lie about something which didn’t occur have a multitude of answers. However, a law enforcement investigator has to have an Investigative Case Action Plan which considers that something is not right with a specific allegation. If the law enforcement officer has received the proper education and training, then they will be able to see the problem, why it occurred, and how it occurred. Once the coaching has been identified then the investigation needs to be focused on the coach and begin seeking criminal charges available to the law enforcement officer.

Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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1 comment:

  1. I always enjoy reading legal articles of good authors. You must be an experienced attorney, aren’t you? If I guessed, let me please invite you to submit your contacts to Attorney Directory on my website. It is free and all good lawyers are welcomed. Moreover, I will be very glad if you decide to write law enforcement articles to my website or post to Attorney Blog.


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