Michigan CSC Case: Child Sex Crime investigation
The investigation of a child sex crime will begin with a complaining witness. The complaining witness may be the victim, or it may be a close friend, relative, or teacher of the victim. Children often tell other children at school before they tell their parents, and these children may report it to a school official. The police will interview the victim using an officer who is trained to understand the subtleties of child victims. The police will also interview any other person the child talked to about the sex crime.
Gathering of Evidence in a CSC Case
During the investigation, the police will search for electronic evidence, including emails, web searches, pictures, and any other evidence that may connect the suspect to the victim. The police will attempt to find any child pornography or “trophies” that that suspect possesses. “Trophies” include objects that the suspect takes from the victim in order to remember or relive the crime. Child pornography and trophies may show the police what “type” the suspect is.
Veracity of the Child Accuser in a CSC Case
The police will also investigate whether the child accuser has a motive to make up the allegations. This motive may be the child’s own motive, or it may be the motive of an adult in the child’s life. There are many different reasons why a child would make up allegations of a sex crime, including the child’s desire to follow the directions of one parent to accuse the other parent, a desire to live with one parent, or the child is caught in the middle of a messy divorce and custody battle.
The defense attorney will need to investigate how the child has knowledge of sexual acts, situations, and terms. Did the child learn about the alleged sex act by watching TV or by hearing about it form children at school? Or did the child learn about it by searching on the internet? The defense attorney will need to find out whether the child has access to pornographic material at home. All of these sources of sex education may show that the child is confused between what actually happened and what the child has learned about from other sources. The defense attorney may use this information during cross examination of the child witness.
Psychological Evidence of CSC
Gathering psychological evidence is important when investigating a child sex crime, because parents often bring their children to see a therapist after the abuse takes place or is reported to law enforcement. An investigation of the therapy sessions should include: Did the child use stick figures or dolls to explain his story to the therapist? Did the child show discomfort while telling his story? The defense attorney should investigate the therapist’s source of knowledge when concluding that the child was abused. Did the therapist compare the child to other patients of the therapist who have been sexually abused? Or is the therapist basing her conclusion on some other source of information?
Interviewing of an Alleged Victim of CSC
Finally, the investigation of a child sex crime will include a Child Protective Services (CPS) interviewer interviewing the child victim. The CPS interviewer conducts a “forensic interview,” which includes the child telling a detailed account of everything that happened before, during, and after the sex crime. The defense attorney will need to investigate whether the CPS interviewer followed accepted practices and protocols and whether the child was asked any leading or biased questions that might manipulate the child’s answers.
If you have questions about any stage of a sex crimes case involving you or a loved one, call our office at 1-800-883-2138 or use the Contact Us form for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to take your call.