1.02.2013

Today’s Investigative Special Report – January 02, 2013 “Dealing With Todays Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “By Who Rules Does Law Enforcement Use To Enforce The Law When Investigating Child Sexual Assault Allegations?”



By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc
Forensic Expert – Senior Author
In the land of the mysterious and great Oz the rules in which those who dare to venture into this dreamland must abide by them. These rules were established to control people who were good and evil. If you violated the laws then one of the Sergeant of Arms would come into your domain and discipline you; there are consequences to your violation and behavior.
In your community like the dreamland of Oz there have been rules established years ago to control the conduct and behavior of its citizens. Law enforcement was established to enforce the rules and monitor if everyone’s conduct and behavior conformed to the communities wishes.  Everyone was responsible to do the right thing, but as most people know there are just some people who violate the rules just because this is the nature of the beast.
English: JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (March 24, 2011) S...
English: JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (March 24, 2011) Sexual Assault Response Coordinator Jan Logan updates Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program instructions in her office at the NAS Jacksonville Fleet and Family Support Center. Logan has been selected as the 2011 Exceptional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the U.S. Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Kaylee LaRocque/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After establishing 
specific States, Counties and Local communities laws were created, voted on, and became the law of the land. No more dreamland of Oz, no more neighbors keeping one another accountable but laws; serious laws which were enforceable and there was a punishment for breaking the laws. In promulgating these laws child protection laws were established such as it is illegal to sexually and physically assault or neglect a child.
In the beginning law enforcement turned their backs on the sexual and physical assaults believing that what happens in a home, stays in the home, and it is up to the father, for the most part to enforce the rules. The problem with this hierarchy is the father was generally the violator of the rules and children endured the wrath sexually and physically or neglect.
It took centuries for law enforcement to step up to the plate and begin enforcing crimes against children. Society was no longer tolerating the crimes that were happening to children. The attitudes of the community had been to leave well enough alone and let the families deal with the problem. However, the child advocates said enough was enough and child sexual and physical assaults or neglect were no longer tolerated.
Today, law enforcement aggressively enforces any and all crimes against children. The education and training is not adequate as of yet, but each year the doors to a variety of education and training has become available worldwide. Still there is much to learn and the more educated, trained, and experienced a law enforcement officer becomes the increase in the credibility and reliability of the child assault investigation will become.
There are an “enormous amount of issues” as child sexual assaults are complicated. There is no such thing as an easy investigations, even if the alleged perpetrator has confessed. Some law enforcement officers would complete the case and submit it to the prosecutor for the filing of criminal charg
Center for Sexual Assault Victims
Center for Sexual Assault Victims (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
es. An excellent investigator needs to think at least ‘six steps’ ahead of the investigation. Just because the alleged perpetrator confessed doesn’t solidify the case as a good defense attorney could have the confession thrown out of court for a technicality that the officer committed. There needs to be a thorough and complete investigation and this can only be accomplished if the officer puts in the necessary effort. Putting the case into the “autopilot” category will come back to haunt the criminal charges which were alleged against the alleged perpetrator.
In the interviewing of the alleged child sexual assault victim the issues can become “enormous” due to the fact that the child interviewer failed to follow the scientific investigative child interviews. The enormity comes from the difficulty in knowing what approach the forensic law enforcement investigator/interviewer is the correct and appropriate interview style.
It takes years of experience not to be seen as stumbling or being clumsy in the officer’s investigative approach to the child sexual assault allegations. The officer must take a step back upon receiving the first responders report and determine specifically what aspects of the case need to be addressed immediately, when to interview the alleged child victim and perpetrator.
Most law enforcement agencies teach their officers to make contact with the non-offending parent, who is generally the reporter of the crime, and set up an interviewer with the alleged child victim. A written or digitally recorded statement may have been taken by the first responder. These interviews generally do not have many details in the statement because the attitude by the first responder
Center for Sexual Assault Victims
Center for Sexual Assault Victims (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
s is the assigned district detective can ask the extensive questions which need to be asked in a comfortable and non-threatening environment.
Depending on the age of the child she is rarely interviewed by the first responder for many reasons, but generally because the officer does not believe they are competent to do such an interview, aren’t comfortable in interviewing children, would rather leave the responsibility of interviewing the child to forensic child sexual assault experts, and so forth.
In the assessment and evaluation stage of the investigation which is generally performed at the beginning of the investigation before the officer takes the first investigative step, he should always prepare a report on his ‘gut’ feelings about the case in chief. If he feels that the information seems to be credible and reliable then maybe interviewing the alleged child victim would be the best investigative approach.
Michael Jackson
Cover of Michael Jackson
Sometimes the officer may need to perform some background interviews on the alleged child victim. If there was ever a major investigative step neglected across America in law enforcement is the failure to perform a background on a child. Officers do not even think this is an investigative option. In the Michael Jackson criminal trial the prosecutor was asked why they hadn’t performed a background on the 14 year old alleged victim as the information the media had been given was he was a liar. The prosecutor stated, “It is not my job to do a pedigree on child victims.” The response by the media should have been, “Then if you won’t do it or those working under you, then who will?”
Too often law enforcement and prosecutors fail to understand that the “enormous” eye sore in their case is their child victim. Imagine your child victim is 15 years old has an acrimonious relationship with her father, and when disciplined by her father that she would lose her mobile telephone for a week, she reports to her school counselor that her father has been raping her since she was five. Really, she is disciplined and then there is an allegation of sexual assaults dating back 10 years. Still law enforcement is not trained to use common sense and if their attitude is “children don’t lie” they will not go fact-finding for the truth.
Going back to whose responsibility is it to do the investigation on the child victim the answer is clear, it is law enforcement’s and the prosecutor’s responsibility. Why should an alleged perpetrator hire an attorney to prove his innocence when law enforcement had the ability and responsibility to perform this task?
When everything is said and done the prosecutor who receives the investigation from the officer doesn’t want the officer to deliver an investigation which is riddled with an “enormous amount of unresolved issues.” These issues will stifle the prosecutor in filing criminal charges if this is the best course of action. Taking the investigation off of “autopilot” and doing their job in a responsible, competent, and intelligent manner is all the community is requesting of their officers. Anything short of this type of investigation is simply unacceptable.
English: A teal ribbon, which is an awareness ...
English: A teal ribbon, which is an awareness ribbon for Ovarian cancer and Sexual assault (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The laws created to protect children from any type of assaults or neglect. Rules were established which make everyone responsible and accountable for their individual actions. Law enforcement however good the officer is in investigating the allegations must adhere to the belief that one rule is they can never take away an individual’s Constitutional Rights to “due process.” When the officer provides the alleged perpetrator with “due process” then the officer is demonstrating he understands and respects the rules of the Constitution. Laws and rules govern the actions of law enforcement for the sole reason of following the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States.
Everyone wins if the law enforcement officer does ‘exactly’ what is asked of him by their community and administration. The proficiency and effectiveness of the officer will take time, he will make his share of mistakes, make bad decisions and judgments, but it is imperative that he is competent and intelligent when performing their job.
It is unlikely that no one will complain about the strength and conviction of the officer’s belief in his fact finding process and conclusions. If he has followed the protocols, procedures, and process then others will believe in his decision making. In the end a criminal charge which is filed or not filed should be the goal by all the interested parties depending on the testimony and evidence, not feelings or tears. Law enforcement must at all times follow the rules and laws of the State, County, and Local legislative mandates and laws.


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

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