Archives : child abuse
A 36 year old Sacramento man was arrested for allegedly killing his 9 year old son with a hatchet while his son was sleeping on a couch. Police were called to the scene of a North Sacramento home on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, where they found the victim dead. According to police, another resident of the home heard glass shatter and found the victim. The accused has served time in prison for domestic violence, and was involved in a bitter custody battle with the child’s mother. He is being held in jail and will be arraigned on Friday March 1, 2013.
California Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence incidents involve an assault, battery, sexual assault, stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment or any physical injury or death committed by an individual against a spouse or former spouse, family member or relative, person they are currently having a relationship with or have had a past relationship with, or someone living in the same house. You could face felony domestic violence charges, a misdemeanor battery charge or a murder charge if you kill the victim. Under California penal code Section 422, even making a threat to harm a victim is also considered a domestic violence crime.
Sentencing and Penalties
A conviction for a misdemeanor domestic violence offense means you could face a minimum 30 day jail sentence and/or community service as well as having to attend a mandatory 52 week batter’s class. You could receive one year in county jail or two to four years in state prison and/or a fine up to $6,000 for a felony domestic violence conviction. For a murder conviction, you could face 15 years to life in a California state prison or life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty. Under California’s three strikes law, you could receive a mandatory 25 years to life prison sentence if you are convicted in California of three felony crimes.
Sacramento Domestic Violence Attorney
If you have been arrested for a domestic violence offense or murder in Sacramento, you will need the expertise of an experienced Sacramento domestic violence attorney to help you fight your charges. At Imhoff & Associates-Criminal Attorneys, we understand the seriousness of such charges and the impact a conviction can have on your life and your family. A good domestic violence criminal defense attorney will investigate the evidence against you, interview witness and negotiate with the prosecutor to either get your charges reduced to a lesser crime, get your alternative sentencing or get your charges dismissed, depending on your case situation.
Pro-Christian Activist Lawyer Arrested for Juvenile Sexual Criminal Activity
Lisa Biron, a New Hampshire lawyer, who was arrested by the FBI in November 2012 and charged with transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, possession of child pornography and five counts of sexual exploitation of children, has been found guilty by a jury on January 10, 2013. She faces a 25 year sentence.
What lead to her arrest was a tip that Manchester police received from a man who reported he saw pornography on Lisa Biron’s computer. After obtaining a search warrant for her home, police found pornographic materials on her computer, which included pedophilia. Prosecutors allege that Biron took a teenage girl from Manchester to Ontario, Canada, on May 25 and forced her to engage in sexual acts with men, while Biron made a video recording. It turned out later that the girl was Ms. Biron’s 14 year old daughter. Biron also videotaped herself having sex with her daughter.
Two witnesses also claimed they had seen Biron in possession of illegal drugs including cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana, as well as being involved in similar incidents with other juveniles who have been subjected to having sex.
Ms. Biron is part of an anti-gay Christian lawyers’ movement and pro-Christian activist. She is also on the board of directors at Mount Zion Christian School in Manchester.
Child Pornography and Related Penalties and Sentences
Under Section 649-B:3, computer child pornography is prohibited in New Hampshire.
“I. No person shall knowingly:
(a) Compile, enter into, or transmit by means of computer;
(b) Make, print, publish, or reproduce by other computerized means;
(c) Cause or allow to be entered into or transmitted by means of computer; or
(d) Buy, sell, receive, exchange, or disseminate by means of computer, any notice, statement, or advertisement, or any minor’s name, telephone number, place of residence, physical characteristics, or other descriptive or identifying information,
for purposes of facilitating, encouraging, offering, or soliciting sexual conduct of or with any child, or the visual depiction of such conduct.”
Any person who violates this section can be charged with a Class B felony.
Under Section 649-A:3 possession of child sexual abuse images is illegal.
“ I. No person shall knowingly:
(a) Buy, procure, possess, or control any visual representation of a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
(b) Bring or cause to be brought into this state any visual representation of a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”
Any person who violates this section can be charged with a Class A felony offense.
Prosecutors in New Hampshire take child pornography and sex crimes involving minors quite serious. The laws are strict. If you are convicted for child pornography or other sexual offenses involving minors in New Hampshire, you are subject to prison time, fines and having to register as a sex offender. It may be difficult for you to find a job or housing once you have served your sentence.
Hiring a New Hampshire Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are charged with a child sex abuse, child pornography or other sex crimes in New Hampshire, it is extremely important to hire a New Hampshire criminal defense attorney immediately to represent you. Your criminal defense attorney will carefully review all the evidence against you, hire expert witnesses to testify at trial and mount a vigorous defense on your behalf. Your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor to try to get your charges reduced to a lesser crime so you don’t have to register as a sex offender, get you alternative sentencing or get the case closed for lack of sufficient evidence or because false allegations were brought against you if case details allow.
Updated Penn State Scandal and Jerry Sandusky Sentencing
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts in June 2012 of raping or fondling boys he met through his youth charity, The Second Mile, which he founded. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, a Judge sentenced him to 30 to 60 years in prison. The Judge stated that he expected 68 year old Sandusky to die in prison. Sandusky leaves behind tragedy for his victims as well as scandal at Penn State, which resulted in the downfall of Penn State’s legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired from his coaching position. Paterno died of lung cancer approximately three months later. Penn State President Graham Spanier was also fired.
There are still four lawsuits pending against Penn State and more expected. During a news conference held on November 1, 2012, Linda Kelly, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, confirmed that former Penn State President Graham Spanier has been charged with five charges: perjury, obstruction of justice, endangering the welfare of children, criminal conspiracy and failure to report suspected child abuse. Kelly also said that Gary Schultz, the former university vice president, and Tim Curley, the former athletic director would face the same five charges. Gary Schultz and Tim Curly are also awaiting their trials in January 2013 for lying to the grand jury that investigated them.
An investigation commissioned by Penn State and headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh found that Paterno and other top officials at Penn State had covered up the allegations against Sandusky for more than a decade to avoid negative publicity for the school. Since the scandal broke, Penn State has received a record $60 million penalty by the NCAA, the team has been barred from post season play for four years, the number of scholarships it can award has been reduced and Paterno has been stripped of his standing as the coach with the most college football wins, as a result of what might be called the biggest scandal in college sports history.
Sandusky denies committing any acts against children and claims he is the victim. Plans for appeal are underway as Sandusky claims, among other things, that his defense team was denied sufficient time to prepare for trial after his November 2011 arrest. Lawyers representing the victims expressed their satisfaction with Sandusky’s sentence.
Prosecutors in Pennsylvania take child sexual abuse cases very seriously. Facing sexual abuse charges under Pennsylvania Statutes Sections 3121-3130 means you could be charged with felony rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, institutional sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, or misdemeanor charges for indecent assault, indecent exposure, sexual intercourse with an animal or conduct relating to sex offenders.
You could face a minimum of 10 years to a maximum of 40 years and fines up to $100,000 for offenses that involve rape and multiple deviate sexual intercourse with minors and also be required to register as a sex offender for life. This could affect your chances of getting a job or finding a place to live. As in the Sandusky case, even if you did not commit a sex abuse crime, you could also be charged for failing to report such crime to law enforcement or face perjury charges for not disclosing information under oath.
Criminal Defense Attorney Assistance
If you are charged with child sex abuse crimes in Pennsylvania, it is imperative that you hire a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney immediately to represent you. At Imhoff & Associates-Criminal Attorneys , we understand the seriousness of such charges, and we will build a strong and vigorous defense on your behalf. Your Imhoff criminal defense attorney will interview witnesses, review arrest reports and other evidence against you, as well as hire expert witnesses to testify at trial. The Imhoff criminal defense attorney will work hard to get the best outcome of your case.
Imhoff & Associates Criminal Attorneys Secure Reduced Charge and Sentence for Parents Accused of Child Abuse
Through the efforts of Shannon Dorvall and Christopher Parkhurst, criminal attorneys from Imhoff & Associates, a young parent was convicted of misdemeanor child endangerment instead of the initial felony child abuse charge.
Sonora, CA- Lacinda Mathiesen-Dunne, a young parent initially accused of felony child abuse, received a misdemeanor child endangerment charge instead, thanks to the hard work of her criminal attorneys, Shannon Dorvall and Christopher Parkhurst from Imhoff & Associates (Case number CRF32050).
According to court transcripts filed in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Tuolumne on 9/28/2011, she and her boy-friend (Steven Beenblossom) gave birth to premature twins in May of 2009. Their daughter, whose injuries revolve around this case, weighed less than two pounds and had an Apgar score of 1. Due to the low Apgar score at birth, the baby girl required special medical care and had pre-existing conditions, including chronic anemia, apnea, vitamin D deficiency, rickets, had difficulty tolerating feedings. The court transcripts also show that she also had severe nutritional deficiencies, as her twin took most of her nutrition while in the womb. Their daughter was discharged from the hospital on June 25, 2009.
Early in July of 2009, the couple took their prematurely born twin daughter to the doctor’s office for a swollen and tender right leg. According to court transcripts, the doctor who saw their daughter was not sure what was wrong with the child’s leg. He later testified that he had never seen anything like it but did not think the bone was broken. An x-ray was recommended by the doctor during their initial visit, which the parents did not obtain, the court documents showed.
A few days later, on July 7, 2009, the baby stopped breathing, and the parents resuscitated her by performing CPR. According to court documents, they immediately rushed her to the hospital after she started breathing again. The hospital seemed to immediately assume that some type of abuse had occurred when they found brain injuries and multiple fractures on the child. The state went on to have the couple’s parental rights terminated, and have the twins put up for adoption. The court transcripts showed that the couple was informed that they were no longer allowed to see the child, who was taken away almost immediately. They have not seen the child since that day. After being placed in foster care, the twins were adopted within a few months.
The mother then sought the assistance of criminal attorneys from Imhoff & Associates. Criminal defense attorneys Shannon Dorvall and Christopher Parkhurst had several doctors assess the case, all of whom agreed that the child’s various pre-existing medical problems were what caused the child’s injuries. At the trial, the couple’s criminal attorney, Parkhurst, pointed these out to the jury, and also argued that there were no external signs of abuse.
After five hours of deliberation, the jury found the mother not guilty of felony child abuse, and instead reduced the charge to misdemeanor child endangerment, as the parents were unable to secure the X-ray the first doctor recommended. This reduced charge means the jury did not believe the mother knowingly put her child in danger. Ms. Mathiesen-Dunne was sentenced to parenting classes, probation, and community service, instead of the District Attorney’s request for the maximum sentence of one year in jail.
Thanks to the efforts of Imhoff & Associates Criminal Attorneys, the parents can now try to get their children back.
For more information on the criminal defense attorneys at Imhoff & Associates, visit http://www.criminalattorney.com. Interested parties may also contact a criminal attorney at the firm by calling 1-888-726-0574.
About Imhoff & Associates
As one of the largest criminal defense firms in the country, Imhoff & Associates employs highly skilled criminal attorneys in various locations around the United States. The firm’s criminal defense attorneys handle a variety of cases, and are available 24/7 to assist clients with their legal needs. Visit http://www.criminalattorney.com or call 1-888-726-0574 to contact a criminal attorney from the firm.
Sex crimes of all nature, especially child sex abuse crimes, are considered very serious crimes in Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania Statutes Sections 3121-3130, you could be charged with the most serious felony crimes of rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, institutional sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, or misdemeanor charges for indecent assault, indecent exposure, sexual intercourse with an animal or conduct relating to sex offenders. Prosecutors vigorously try these cases and courts are harsh on sentencing convicted sex offenders involving sex crimes against children. Prison sentences for the most serious sex felony crime convictions are lengthy ranging from maximum minimum 10 year sentences to 40 years for crimes involving rape and multiple deviate sexual intercourse charges involving minors, especially minors under 13 years of age and fines up to $100,000. Convicted sex offenders must register on the state sex offender registry after serving their sentences, which could affect where you can live and may affect other aspects of your life such as employment. Even if you are not accused of these offenses, you can still be charged with failing to report serious sex crimes to law enforcement and also be subject to perjury charges if you lie under oath about not having knowledge of such crimes.
Former Penn State football defensive coordinator and assistant football coach Gerald “Jerry” Sandusky was arrested on November 5, 2011, accused of child sex abuse crimes involving eight boys over a time span of approximately 10 years. He was released on a $100,000 bond after the arraignment on 40 criminal counts according to the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. Charges include seven felony counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, single counts of aggravated indecent assault and attempted indecent assault. Sandusky is facing up to 20 years in prison for the seven felony counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse alone besides additional sentences for other charges if he is convicted. Mr. Sandusky denies the charges. Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, 57, and the University’s vice president for finance and business as well as having responsibility for overseeing the University Police Department, Gary Schultz, 62, have been charged with perjury and failing to report information they had regarding the sex abuse allegations.
At one time, Mr. Sandusky was considered to be a likely replacement for the legendary Joe Paterno, Penn State’s head coach position, prior to his retirement in 1999. After retiring from Penn State, Mr. Sandusky continued his work with at-risk-children through his non-profit organization Second Mile, which he founded in 1977. All of the victims in the case are alleged to have initially come into contact with Mr. Sandusky through his Second Mile organization. In 1999, Mr. Sandusky was banned from the Clinton County school district after the mother of an approximate 11 or 12 year old boy at the time reported to the high school that her son received expensive gifts and trips to sporting events and reported to her that he had been sexually assaulted by Mr. Sandusky during an overnight stay at his house. These charges triggered the State’s investigation into Mr. Sandusky’s current alleged sexual abuse charges.
Other allegations by a graduate assistant, Mr. Kelly, took place in 2002 when he reported that he saw Mr. Sandusky sexually assaulting a naked boy approximately 10 years old in a locker room of the Lasch Football Building located on the campus. He and his father reported the incident to Mr. Paterno, who then reported it to Mr. Curley, but it was not reported to any law enforcement agencies or Child Protective Service Agencies as required under Pennsylvania Law. Mr. Paterno has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the case according to prosecutors. Mr. Curley testified that he banned Mr. Sandusky from bringing any children onto the campus and that he reported the matter to Penn State President Graham Spanier. Mr. Sandusky was no longer coaching at Penn State during this time.
On November 9, 2011, Joe Paterno announced he was retiring at the end of the season, but the University made the decision to ask Paterno and President Spanier to leave effectively immediately, naming defensive coordinator Tom Bradley as the interim coach and provost Rodney Erickson as interim University President. With such a major scandal for a school that has maintained one of the most pristine images in college sports and one of four major schools that have never been found guilty of any major violations by the NCAA, this is a devastating blow. With the school’s reputation at stake, the University has hired their own investigator, former FBI director Louis Freeh, to conduct an independent investigation regarding the Sandusky child sex abuse allegations.
Hire an Attorney
If you are accused or charged with Pennsylvania sex crimes involving minors or other related sex offenses, these are very serious charges and require the assistance of a Pennsylvania Criminal Sexual Offense Attorney to defend you. The attorney understands the Pennsylvania laws and can aggressively defend you by interviewing witnesses and may be able to convince authorities and prosecutors to drop or dismiss charges against you, or in some cases, avoid charges from being filed against you if were falsely accused. The attorney may also be able to get charges filed against you reduced to a lesser crime such as indecent exposure or get you community service or probation.
A North Carolina mother and her boyfriend are facing charges of child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon after the couple made a routine of shooting her three children with a BB gun.
Couple Allegedly Routinely Shot Kids with BB Gun
Officers say that the children of Jessica Pack, 31, were shot with a BB gun dozens of times over a period of three months by both her and her live-in boyfriend, 23-year-old Jackie Nanney.
- Pack has been accused of shooting only one of her children, pulling the trigger at least once
- Nanney has been accused of shooting all three kids
Mother Claims She Tried to Prevent Shootings
Pack insists that she tried to prevent Nanney from shooting her kids, ages 4, 5, and 7. During her first court appearance she explained, “I tried to stop him, but he still wouldn’t.”
Officer Chris Reynolds countered her claim by saying Pack should be held responsible because she failed to contact authorities.
Boyfriend Denies Criminal Charges
Nanney denied the accusations against him, “We’ll shoot cans. That’s all we shoot. I don’t shoot no kids. No shooting anybody’s going on. We’re just out there having fun.”
Officers point out that the welts and bruises all over the children’s bodies are evidence that cans were not the only targets being shot at.
Others Disgusted by Child Abuse, Assault
The stepmother of Pack’s 13-year-old son, who was not one of the victims, expressed her disgust. “I wouldn’t imagine somebody touching a youngen, especially not shooting a BB gun at them,” said Mendy Payne.
Kids Shot For the Fun of It
Police said that the most disturbing thing about the situation was the fact that it appeared that the kids had been shot because Pack and Nanney thought it was amusing. ”Looks to be he was doing it for the fun of it,” said Reynolds. “It just became what appeared to be a pleasure for him of shooting individuals.”
He added, “They were hit in the bathroom, in the bathtub, outside playing and riding their bike. It was like fun and games for him.”
(Source: Gaston Gazette)
Have been accused of domestic violence or assault? Contact Imhoff & Associates today to consult with one of our seasoned criminal defense attorneys FREE of charge. We will work vigorously to ensure that your legal rights are protected and that you are not excessively or unduly punished.
Two women and one man in Tracy, California face criminal charges for allegedly kidnapping and keeping a 17-year old young man chained within their home.
The young man, only identified as “Kyle,” had been in the custody of his aunt, Caren Ramirez, for over the past year. Ramirez—along with Michael Schumacher and Kelly Lau—are the three adults that face criminal charges in this case.
The three defendants face criminal charges including:
- False imprisonment
If convicted, each of these defendants faces over 15 years in jail.
History of Kyle’s Imprisonment
According to authorities, Kyle’s recent imprisonment was only the latest incident in a string of abusive situations Kyle has escaped. After taking him away from his abusive father a few years ago, Sacramento County Child Protective Services (SCCPS) had placed Kyle in a foster home, which he ran away from due to abuse.
Defendants Have History of Child Abuse
In an effort to keep him with family, SCCPS then placed Kyle with Ramirez. However, in 2007, Ramirez was arrested for child abuse after she was caught beating Kyle with:
- Kitchen utensils
In the incident report, authorities found serious bruises all over Kyle’s body. While Ramirez received probation for this abuse, she was eventually arrested when she failed to appear in court.
At this point, SCCPS placed Kyle with another family in the Sacramento area—from which he also ran away. Since this 2007 disappearance, no one—except Ramirez, Schumacher and Lau—knew where Kyle was.
The details of Kyle’s recent imprisonment have only come forth after Kyle jumped over an 8-foot fence to escape the Ramirez house. Earlier this week, Kyle—wearing only boxers and a 3-foot padlocked chain around his foot—ran into a nearby gym and begged employees to hide him from his captors.
Employees took him in, called authorities and fed Kyle while they awaited police. Despite being 17 years old, Kyle was so emaciated that he appeared to be about 5 years younger, according to the gym’s employees.
Local authorities are still investigating the details of Kyle’s past year at the Ramirez house. They haven’t specified the precise nature of his recent abuse.
A trial date has yet to be set for this case.
(Source: Los Angeles Times)
Have you been charged with a crime? If so, contact us today to talk to an experienced professional who will provide you with the legal support you need to get your charges reduced, if not dropped altogether.
Few criminal cases have higher stakes than those involving accusations of child sexual abuse. The accusation alone can permanently damage a person’s reputation in the community. A conviction may bring significant prison time, a sex offender registration requirement, and restrictions on employment options. With so much at stake, it becomes even more important to follow Constitutional procedures designed to prevent convictions based on false accusations. Yet many states have acted to eliminate one of the most important rights of an accused in sexual abuse cases: a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser.
Defendant’s Right to Cross-Examine His Accusers
The “Confrontation Clause” of the Sixth Amendment guarantees the accused in a criminal trial the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” The purpose of the Confrontation Clause is to allow the defendant to cross-examine his accusers. It assists in the truth-finding process by allowing the judge or jury to examine a witness’s demeanor in the courtroom to determine whether he or she is being truthful. Requiring an accuser to be in the presence of the accused encourages truthfulness, because it is more difficult to lie about someone in their presence.
Many states, however, have essentially eliminated the confrontation requirement in child sexual abuse cases. Due to the young age of child accusers and the sensitive nature of the subject matter being discussed, many states have given judges the discretion to keep the accusers out of the courtroom. Prosecutors claim that traumatized child victims must be shielded from further trauma that they believe will result from facing the defendant in open court. Instead, child accusers in these states are permitted to testify via closed circuit television from a location other than the witness stand and other than the courtroom. Although defense attorneys have challenged this position, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld this practice. In Maryland v. Craig (1990), the Court ruled that, although the right to confront your accuser is important, that right is not absolute. Face-to-face confrontation sometimes gives way to the state’s interest in protecting children from potential psychological harm.
Do Defendants Lose the Presumption of Innocence?
Yet defense attorneys continue to argue that shielding child accusers from the accused presumes the defendant’s guilt. More importantly, it deprives the defendant of the presumption of innocence. The threat increases that innocent people could be convicted if a child witness is lying or if the child’s memories are influenced by suggestive questioning from adults. Only by requiring a child witness to testify and be cross-examined in front of the defendant can a fact-finder arrive at the truth. While the youngest members of our society deserve to be protected, it should not be at the expense of fundamental due process rights of criminal defendants.
Despite its ruling, the Supreme Court continues to recognize the importance of face-to-face confrontation in criminal trials. Craig requires prosecutors to satisfy certain requirements in order to waive a child’s appearance in the courtroom. “The trial court must hear evidence and determine whether use of the one-way closed circuit television is necessary to protect the welfare of the particular child witness who seeks to testify.” Craig, 497 U.S. at 855.
Impact of a Child’s Presence in the Courtroom
Because the presence of the child in the courtroom can have such an impact on the finding of guilt or innocence, a criminal defense attorney should vigorously refute the necessity of closed-circuit testimony. A defense attorney can accomplish this by showing that the child witness’s trauma would be caused only by the courtroom generally, and not by the presence of the defendant. A skilled defense attorney will hold the State to its obligation, as the party with the burden of proof, to present evidence that the appearance of the child accuser in court will render the taking of testimony impossible. While seemingly a small battle in the war that a sexual abuse trial will be, its loss may result in denying a defendant his constitutional right to a fair trial.
In the 1980s and 90s, highly publicized trials of day care providers struck fear in parents from coast to coast. In 1983 in California seven workers at the McMartin preschool were charged with 115 counts of having sexual relations with children as young as two years old. In New Jersey in 1985, kindergarten teacher Margaret Kelly Michaels was accused of forcing more than 20 children to play sex games and penetrating them with knives and forks. In 1995 a pastor and his wife in Wenatchee Washington were accused of being at the center of a sex ring in which children were ritualistically abused and raped. Forty-three adults were accused of being involved in the sex ring, and 29,726 charges of sexual abuse were filed against them.
Many Sexual Abuse Cases Involving Children Were Unfounded
These cases represent only a small sample of an apparent epidemic of sexual abuse that plagued the country. The accusations were marked by lurid details of torture, satanic rituals, and elaborate sexual abuse scenarios. They involved hundreds of children, and led to thousands of charges filed. If the stories seemed to horrifying to be believed, it is because, in many cases, they were not true. The McMartin case wore on for seven years and is the longest and most expensive case in U.S. history. It resulted in no convictions. Margaret Kelly Michaels was convicted of 115 counts of sexual abuse and spent five years in prison, before the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned her convictions. The charges in the Wenatachee “sex ring” were deemed entirely untrue, and the case has been described as, “the worst example ever of mental health services being abused by the state …” (“Pastor and wife are acquitted on all charges in sex-abuse case,” New York Times, December 12, 1995.) Certainly some children in some cases had been sexually abused, but research showed that between 23 percent and 33 percent of child sexual abuse cases involved false allegations, between 2 percent and 8 percent of cases involved deliberate lies by children, and the majority of reported cases were unfounded (“False sex abuse accusations lead to revision of theories,” Psychiatric News, June 20, 2003).
Techniques Used to Gather Evidence Are Flawed
Years after these and similar sexual abuse cases the psychiatric and law enforcement communities were left to determine how their systems had led to and perpetuated this modern-day witch hunt. What research in the past decade has indicated is that most interview techniques and assumptions used in the child abuse investigations were seriously flawed. In overturning one conviction, the court of appeals concluded that the alleged victims were subjected to aggressive, highly suggestive questioning. When the children denied being abused, the investigators badgered them until they gave the “right” answer. In addition, “[i]nterviewers were gullible, asked leading questions, conducted multiple interviews that led to delayed disclosures with fantastical details, and failed to consider other explanations for the childrenâ€™s behaviors.” (“False sex abuse accusations lead to revision of theories,” Psychiatric News, June 20, 2003).
What Caused the Day Care Abuse Hysteria?
The psychiatric community must share the blame with law enforcement. The day care abuse hysteria was partially brought on by the rise of “recovered memories” of sexual abuse. These memories were “recovered” when patients suffering from psychological problems were told by therapists that their symptoms suggested sexual abuse, and could be remembered through the use of suggestive techniques such as hypnotic regression. (“The danger of false accusations,” Boston Globe, April 22, 2002). But these therapists had “confused the absence of memory with repression of a traumatic memory, believed that memories were immutable and could be recalled from birth, and assumed a person who felt abused had indeed been abused.” (“False sex abuse accusations lead to revision of theories,” Psychiatric News, June 20, 2003). Moreover, recent studies by psychologists have demonstrated that traumatic memories can be implanted.
If there is anything positive to be gleaned from the sexual abuse hysteria, it is that many law enforcement agencies have developed standard investigatory protocols designed to avoid contaminating child testimony. These protocols include videotaping the questioning of child accusers in order to document the interview process. In addition, members of the psychiatric community have begun to treat recovered memories with more skepticism. While prosecutions based on false accusations are not completely behind us, there is reason to hope that lessons from the past will prevent mistakes in the future.
Victims of False Sexual Abuse Accusations
To the falsely accused, however, past lessons may be of little comfort. Victims of false accusations face a difficult legal battle and a public presumption of guilt that may be difficult to overcome. Defendants need the assistance of an attorney who understands the legal issues involved, and who has experience in defending the falsely accused. An experienced attorney will investigate the charges, aggressively dispute the allegation, and present an effective case in court. If necessary a defendantâ€™s lawyer will defend him in the press and protect him from mistreatment. A criminal sex conviction can result in significant prison time, and the accusation alone can cause significant emotional damage. A skilled attorney will minimize the damage to the accused both inside and outside the courtroom, and will fight to ensure that justice is done.
By Brian Barrido, Esq. and Jay Mykytiuk
A school custodian was accused of sexual abuse by five girls. The charges were later dropped when the girls admitted that they had fabricated the story because the custodian had reported them for vandalizing a restroom. An Assistant Superintendent jumped off a bridge to his death after being accused of abusing a student. He had been cleared of any wrongdoing earlier that day. A social studies teacher was accused of molesting a student during a school field trip. Eleven months later, his name was cleared when his accuser recanted. A nine year-old girl offered to pay each of her friends one dollar if they would accuse her teacher of abuse.
False allegations of child abuse against teachers and other school employees can be economically, emotionally, and financially devastating. It can lead to criminal prosecution and long jail terms. And it is a real phenomenon. One school administrator claims to receive 10-12 false accusations of abuse against teachers every year. Multiplied across the country, this number is staggering and disturbing.
Sexual Abuse Allegations Used Against Teachers
Because crimes against children are so horrific, naturally accusers are taken seriously. What this means for accused teachers, is that they are usually presumed guilty presumption that can be very difficult to overcome. The most common motive of students who falsely accuse their teachers is to punish teachers who either disciplined them or give them poor grades. A false accusation of physical or sexual abuse will usually ensure that the targeted teacher is, at the least suspended or fired, and at worst, brought up on criminal charges. If an investigation is not properly handled, or the accused educator is not adequately represented by legal counsel, they may lose their careers and their freedom.
Some schools are addressing the issue before the problem arises. School handbooks advise teachers not to have any physical contact with students. Others discourage teachers from ever being one-on-one with a student in a classroom. But despite these precautions, educators remain vulnerable to abuse charges due to the nature of their positions.
Consequences of a Child Abuse Conviction
The consequences of a guilty plea or conviction for physical or sexual abuse are potentially disastrous. Besides substantial jail time, the convicted abuser will lose his teaching license. If convicted of sexual abuse, one must register as a sex offender, and have their name and residence publicly posted. The convicted abuser will be barred from certain types of jobs, and will often be forced to undergo psychological treatment. This adds up to a steep price for simply choosing a career in education.
An educator accused of physical or sexual abuse against a child should seek counsel immediately. A competent attorney will investigate your case, gather character witnesses, and argue your case to the District Attorney. Your attorney should secure expert witnesses in the area of child psychology. In general, it is crucial that your attorney prepare a comprehensive legal strategy to combat the false accusations and prove your innocence.
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