Today’s Investigative Special Report – January 29, 2013 “Dealing With Todays Law Enforcement Specialized Investigations” “The “Fingerprints” Of A Child Sexual Assault Investigation – Part III”

By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

Forensic Expert – Senior Author

In law enforcement the investigative strategies, tactics, and approaches may make a difference in the detective finding the truth about what happened to a child victim who may have been sexually assaulted. This is important as in child sexual assault investigations (CSAI) the manner in which the incident is examined, evaluated, and analyzed by the detective may determine the ultimate outcome.
English: Fingerprint
English: Fingerprint (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In child sexual assault sometimes a child is sexually assaulted on one occasion. Studies have demonstrated that 50% of the children were touched on one occasion. The reason for the one time sexual touching is children immediately report the incident. The major issue is what happens with the other 50% of a child who is sexually assaulted. Since most perpetrators groom the child, sexually assault the child, then not to be detected, the perpetrator uses coercive and threatening methods to silence the child. Being physically assaulted by the perpetrator is common in child sexual assault children; they go hand in hand.
Children become so fearful that the perpetrator will retaliate against them, or a family member, friends, or an animal, the child may never disclose the sexual assaults. There are many men and women who live with the memory of being sexually assaulted sixty plus years ago. Many people would rather die than tell that at some time in their childhood a man or woman sexually assaulted them.
Many studies have demonstrated the number of women who were sexually assaulted sometime in their childhood is a ratio of 1 out of 3 woman. Men have similar ratios of 1 out 6 were sexually assaulted in their childhood. However, during the past four decades the mental health profession has assisted men in coming forward and the ratio may be higher than studies have demonstrated i.e. the ratio being 1 out of 4 to 5 being sexually assaulted as a child.
Detection - The District Detective will need to identify the "Origin of the Disclosure"

In the “Daly’s Twelve Investigative Characteristics to Finding the Truth” the number 12 characteristic is ‘Detection.’ There is a magnitude of reasons why this characteristic was included. When a crime scene technician (CST) is capable of detecting fingerprints at a crime scene where the perpetrator is unknown, locating, and detecting the fingerprint may bring positive results to the investigation.

The same positive outcome occurs when the child discloses that they were sexually assaulted by a family member or someone else. The disclosure allows a detection process to occur which includes interviewing the child victim, witnesses, and perpetrators. If the detective performs his duties and responsibilities to the law enforcement agencies requirements, he should detect information, facts, and evidence which will assist him in CSAI.
Identification - The District Detective will need to question the child victim and witnesses reference who the perpetrator is to the victim
The fifth characteristic is “Identification” which is included in the twelve characteristics because of a distinct reason. Once a fingerprint is identified it can be classified, then depending on the circumstances the perpetrator may be identified. Sometimes a CST will identify a print, than later put the information into the National Automated Fingerprint Index System (NAFIS).
However, since the perpetrator was never fingerprinted his identity will remain unknown until he applies for a job which requires he be fingerprinted; a background is performed on him; or he is arrested at which time he is fingerprinted. So there are significant situations which may cause his fingerprints to be put in the NAFIS.
Sometimes Hollywood will have a perpetrator they believed committed a crime, but he has never been fingerprinted so there are no fingerprints in the system. During the interrogation of the perpetrator they will place some type of drink in front of the perpetrator with the hope he will leave his fingerprints on the drink item. After he leaves they take possession of the drink and then have it processed for his fingerprints. After the fingerprint is identified, they compare the fingerprints they obtained at the crime scene and in the end, the fingerprints match. They have now identified their perpetrator and can move to have him criminally charged.
In the real world this may happen when a creative and innovative detective employs intelligent and common sensical investigative tactics. Unfortunately, perpetrators are becoming more knowledgeable about law enforcement tactics and refuse to touch anything. Perpetrators for the most part are savvy enough to know what to say, what not to do, and when it is time to ask for an attorney.
When law enforcement interviews the child victim and witnesses there are several questions they will need to ask them. These questions are, but not limited to:
1.      How was the perpetrator identified?
2.      Who was the person who identified the perpetrator?
3.      Did the child victim know the perpetrator?
4.      How did the child victim know the perpetrator?
5.      Was the perpetrator a relative, stranger, friend, peer, neighbor, and so forth?
6.      How did the perpetrator have ‘alone’ time with the child victim to commit the sexual assault?
The answers to these questions and similar ones are critical to the CSAI. Sometimes children have difficulty in explaining who the person was who sexually assaulted them. Further, they may have trouble in identifying what part of their body was touched by the perpetrator. This is a common problem in interviewing young children. If parents would take the time to explain to their child what the name of their body parts is called and what their function is, the child may be capable of providing a detailed account of what happened to them.
Once the child sexual assault has been detected, the type of sexual assault occurred, and the identification of who committed the sexual assault should be enough for a criminal charge to be filed. However, in the criminal justice system perpetrators find freedom too often because the CSAI was not completed thoroughly. Just because the above three facets of the investigation strengthens the case, this should not be a sign that the detective can move on to the next case.
There are other witnesses which should be identified, pursued, and interviewed by the detective. Witnesses who may have information may be counselors, medical personnel, teachers, family, peers, friends, co-workers, and other people who may have information about the parties involved in the allegations.
The detective needs to be complete, thorough, extensive, detailed, logical, intelligent, and most importantly overall competent. The detective’s investigation will present to everyone that he is an individual who has been educated, trained, and experience in conducting CSAI’s. If the detective uses alternative hypothesis and common sense, the avenues of which investigative direction he should take during the CSAI will become apparent, positive, and successful.

Lawrence W. Daly
Kent, WA

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