Presentation on theme: "Raquel E. Cohen, M.D., Director Children’s & Special Needs Center"— Presentation transcript:
1 Forensic and Clinical/Psychological Interviews in Child Sexual Abuse Cases Raquel E. Cohen, M.D., DirectorChildren’s & Special Needs CenterOffice of the Dade County State AttorneyMiami, Florida
2 Forensic vs. Clinical/ Psychological Interviews in Child Sexual Abuse Cases - Objectives To identify the characteristics of each type of interviewTo differentiate and contrast each interviewTo appreciate the legal constraints of obtaining data to support an alleged incident of child sexual abuse
3 Presentation Individual Roles: Child: Stages of development, gender, age, socio-cultural, handicapsVictim: Alleged sexual actWitness: Credibility of child, competency of child, hearsay statementsDefinitions: Forensic vs. Clinical interviewsDifferentiating Variables: Forensic vs. ClinicalForensic Interview Procedures
4 Rationale for Forensic Interviews How do I elicit complete data using forensicinterviewing techniques that cannot bemanipulated or dismissed, and that validatethe facts reported by the child beyond areasonable doubt when the case ispresented to a jury?
5 CHILD ABUSE LEGISLATION (Definitions) “ABUSED OR NEGLECTED CHILD” means a child whose physical or mental health or welfare is harmed, or threatened with harm, by the acts or omissions of the parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare.“CHILD” means any person under the age of 18 yearsContinued
6 CHILD ABUSE LEGISLATION (Definitions - Con’t.) “CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT” means harm or threatened harm to a child’s physical or mental health welfare by the acts or omissions of the parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare.“PHYSICAL INJURY” means death, permanent or temporary disfigurement, or impairment of any bodily part.“SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD” means an action where an individual makes contact or puts something in a “PRIVATE” body part.
7 CURRENT LAW AND PRACTICE Florida Statute requires mandatory reporting of all cases of child abuse. This statute applies to suspected or confirmed reports against any person, regardless of occupation, who is alleged to be involved or any person who is alleged to have committed any act of child abuse. School personnel are not exempted from mandatory reporting of child abuse even when a fellow employee is suspected or confirmed as the abuser.
8 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INFANTILE AND INVESTIGATIVE/ASSESSMENT FOCUS CHILD Characteristics according to age and sex* Developmental phases* Psycho-dynamic issues* Diagnosis and treatmentVICTIM - Role behavior response to traumatic event* Protective planning by agency* Trauma syndrome* Consequences / SequelaeWITNESS - Role responsibility (credibility; veracity) to providespecific data to support evidence of the event.Knowledge of truth and lie.* Criminal charging planning - ASA
9 CHILD SEXUAL ABUSEExpert opinion that an event has occurred is based on the following conclusions:LogicalConsistentExplainableObjectiveDefensible
10 PATHWAY OF REFERRALS/SERVICES FOR A CHILD-VICTIM FORENSIC AND CLINICAL SYSTEMS FORENSIC CLINICALReporting ReferralInvestigationData Collection AssessmentDecision of Police Diagnosisand Assistant State Treatment Attorneys Psycho-SocialIssueArrest No Arrest
12 Investigation of Child Sexual Abuse Investigation of an alleged child (under 12) sexualabuse report is supported by legislation, budget,procedures, trained man power, organized socialstructures and the judicial system.
13 LEGAL OBJECTIVES OF CHILD ABUSE INVESTIGATION Has to establish credibility - elicit the questions that produces data that is plausible and reliableHas to establish trustworthiness - the data obtained has to reliable, consistent, logical and realisticEstablishes the competency of the child’s description of the event shows the child can deal with memory and description of an event involving the touching of their body in in a way that it can be defined as child abuse.
14 COMPETENCYThe minimum standards of creditability that allow a reasonable person to put credence in a witness’ testimony.MRE 601- “Every person is competent to be a witness except as otherwise provided in these rules.”
15 THE TEST OF A CHILD’S COMPETENCY Derives from the supreme court decision in Wheeler V. U.S., 159 U.S. 523 (1895) in which the question of a child’s competency was found to:Depend on the capacity and intelligence of the childHis/Her appreciation of the difference between truth and falsehoodHis/Her duty to tell the truth
16 Assessment of Child’s Credibility Accuracy of children’s memorySuggestibilityObjectivityWhat are the motives of the individuals?Character of the witnessAdolescent behaviorSincerityContinued
17 Assessment of Child’s Credibility Consistency of testimony-Children are inconsistent related to ageCorroboration-Physical evidenceTestimony of other witness
18 HEARSAY STATEMENTS OF A CHILD VICTIM In State v. Townsend 635 So. 2d 949 (Fla. 1994) the Supreme Court of Florida stated that for hearsay statements to be admitted under this section, the statement must meet two specific reliability requirements:1) The source of the information through which the statement was reported must indicate trustworthiness; and2) The time, content, and circumstances of the statement must reflect that the statement provides sufficient safeguards of reliability.Continued
19 HEARSAY STATEMENTS OF A CHILD VICTIM In determining the trustworthiness andreliability of a hearsay statement the courtmust look to the time, content, andcircumstances of the statement.in addition to considering the criteriaset forth in the statute.
20 HEARSAY STATEMENTS OF A CHILD VICTIM The law (90.803(23), F.S.) provides that: Unless the source of information or the method of circumstances by which the statement is reported indicates a lack of trustworthiness, an out-of-court statement made by a child victim with a physical, mental, emotional, or developmental age of 11 or less describing any act of child abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, or any other offense involving an unlawful sexual act, contact, intrusion, or penetration performed in the presence of, with, by, or on the declarant child, not otherwise admissible, is admissible in evidence in any civil or criminal proceeding if:Continued
21 HEARSAY STATEMENTS OF A CHILD VICTIM 1) The court finds in a hearing conducted outside the presence of the jury that the time, content, and circumstances of the statement provides sufficient safeguards of reliability. In making its determination, the court may consider the mental and physical age and maturity of the child, the nature and duration of the abuse or offense, the reliability of the assertion, the reliability of the child victim, and any other factor deemed appropriate;2) the child [testifies]
22 HEARSAY STATEMENTS OF A CHILD VICTIM List of CriteriaThe statement’s spontaneityWhether the statement was made at the first available opportunity following the alleged incident.Whether the statement was elicited in response to questions from adults.The mental state of the child when the abuse was reported.Continued
23 HEARSAY STATEMENTS OF A CHILD VICTIM Whether the child used terminology unexpected of a child similar age.The motive or lack thereof to fabricate the statement.The ability of the child to distinguish between reality and fantasy.The vagueness of the accusations.The possibility of any improper influence on the child by the participants involved in a domestic dispute.Contradiction in the accusation.
24 FORENSIC vs. CLINICAL INTERVIEWING OF ALLEGED SEXUALLY ABUSED CHILDREN DEFINITION:Forensic- Is defined as an interview between a forensic interviewer and a child for the sole purpose of eliciting non-contaminated data supporting or not the alleged event, who is the perpetrator of the abuse, the place and the time.
25 FORENSIC vs. CLINICAL INTERVIEWING OF ALLEGED SEXUALLY ABUSED CHILDREN DEFINITION:Clinical - is defined as an interview between a trained clinician and a child for a variety of purposes including diagnosing developmental, cognitive and/or emotional disorders. One of the purposes can include assessing the possibility that the child has been sexually abused. There are a variety of techniques that are used to elicit clinical data.
26 THERAPEUTIC AND FORENSIC INTERVIEWING: HOW THEY DIFFER Assumes the child is telling the truthThe interviewer is an advocateSubjective reality is acceptedby David C. Raskin, Ph.D., and Phillip W. Esplin, 1991continuedFORENSICFact-finding procedureThe interviewer is neutralAlternative explanations are explored
27 THERAPEUTIC AND FORENSIC INTERVIEWING: HOW THEY DIFFER The general idea of abuse is enoughThe way information is obtained is not very importantby David C. Riskin, Ph.D., and Phillip W. Esplin, 1991FORENSICDetails are imperativeThe way information is obtained is strictly governed
28 FORENSIC ASSESSMENT VS FORENSIC ASSESSMENT VS. CHILD PSYCHIATRY ASSESSMENT INTERVIEW: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
30 SYSTEMATIC DECISION PATHWAY FOR CHILD’S CREDIBILITY Child Alleges Sexual Abuse:1) Unreliable Account Further Investigation2) Misinterpretation of Incident Clarify Event3) Child is Deluded Diagnosis for Mental Symptom4) Child is Confabulating (Alone/Prompted) Investigate Parent Conflict5) Child is Truthful and CredibleDocument the following:External ConsistencyInternal ConsistencyInternal DetailsAppropriate affect while remembering eventRule-out effect of suggestibilityCheck out the child’s reaction to challenge in regard to confabulation, fabrication, external influences
31 FOUR DIMENSIONS HAVE EVOLVED THAT ARE USED IN QUALIFYING Present an understanding of the difference between truth and falsity and an appreciation of the obligation or responsibility to speak the truthMental capacity at the time of the occurrence in question, to observe or receive accurate impressions of the occurrenceMemory sufficient to retain an independent recollection of the observations, and capacity truly to communicate or translate into words the memory of such observation and the capacity to understand simple questions about the occurrence.
32 TYPES OF QUESTIONS TO AVOID IN FORENSIC INTERVIEWS 1) Leading Question- A question that suggest it’s own answer or is calculated to obtain a particular response.A) Yes/No Questions- Ask for affirmative or negative response.2) Suggestive Question- Methods or material that, directly or indirectly, are said to influence or imply something to a child.B) Verbal- Refers to statements implying that something occurred or particular persons were involved, or statements appearing to ask for confirmation of something.Continued
33 TYPES OF QUESTIONS TO AVOID IN FORENSIC INTERVIEWS B) Suggestive Coercion- Term applied to techniques, statements or actions that may prompt, coerce or bribe a child to address a particular topic or make a particular statement.3) Reinforcement Questions- Any type of behavior that encourages disclosure showing emotional support or approval of child’s statements; empathetic body gestures, assuring children that they are not at fault.Continued
34 TYPES OF QUESTIONS TO AVOID IN FORENSIC INTERVIEWS 4) Contamination Questions- Term that refers to the introduction in an interview of information, ideas, or details about a case by someone other than the child being interviewed.EXAMPLE: Interviewer tells child something that a mother, or witness has said or refers to some form of evidence that has not previously been volunteered by the child.Frequent sources of “potential contamination”:A) Information transfer between parents, therapistB) Joint interviewsC) Social contact among victimsD) Media contaminationE) Therapeutic interventions