Parents Accused of Sexual Assault of a ChildPublished: Apr 26, 2018 in Sex Crimes
Every parent’s nightmare is having something bad happen to their child. For a mother or father, something even worse is being accused of causing that harm. Cases of parents being accused of sexual assault of a child are rare. But when such cases arise, they usually are difficult to resolve at both the legal and emotional levels. If you promptly hire an experienced Houston sexual assault lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, it may be possible to investigate the allegations and collect the evidence necessary to clear your name of any wrongdoing.
When are False Allegations Made?
Children are almost never at the source of false allegations of abuse. In the vast majority of cases, an adult makes the accusation, and the child corroborates it later through suggestion. When the allegations are false, they tend to arise under the following circumstances:
There are many reasons why two former romantic partners can have bad blood between them. Whatever the reason, a desire to get back at someone can lead to false accusations of abuse. For example, one parent might accuse the other of molesting their child as revenge for an act of infidelity.
The outcome of a divorce proceeding or settlement may be greatly swayed by one parent’s misconduct. When significant assets are in play, it is not uncommon for one spouse to accuse the other of wrongdoing. In some cases, the alleged wrongdoing is sexual abuse of a child.
Child Custody Battles
Similar to a divorce, the bad conduct of a parent can have a significant impact on a child custody arrangement. A substantiated allegation of sexual abuse against a child will result in the perpetrator being denied custody.
Sometimes, false allegations can emerge out of the blue. Your child’s teacher or pediatrician might misidentify symptoms of sexual abuse and report their findings to Child Protective Services (CPS), which in turn will launch an investigation. These cases are rare, but they do happen.
How Can a Lawyer Prove I Did Not Abuse My Child?
A lawyer experienced in child sexual abuse cases knows there are three basic categories of false allegation:
These cases emerge from allegations that are completely fabricated. Almost never originating with the child, these false allegations generally result from another parent or a romantic partner with an ulterior motive.
In the rare case of a child making a false accusation, it will often involve perpetrator substitution. The child was actually molested, but falsely identifies the perpetrator. Sexual assault is traumatic, and recalling such events can be extremely difficult for a young person. Improper interviewing techniques with suggestive questioning can lead to an abused child wrongly identifying a parent as the perpetrator.
With the difficulties in obtaining consistent child testimony, the available evidence may not conclusively point to one version of the story. Many cases, unfortunately, fall into this category. These are the cases in which an experienced legal advocate can make the most difference.
Sexual assault usually occurs behind closed doors, which means that the evidence available to corroborate the accuser’s allegations will be hard to come by. A prosecutor’s case against a child abuse suspect usually includes:
- Testimony from the child
- Testimony from a third party such as a parent, teacher, doctor, or baby sitter
- Report of a medical examination
- Statements from the suspect
As mentioned above, it is fairly easy to obtain a damning statement from a child. If the CPS agent, police officer, or prosecutor who interviewed your child used improper questioning techniques, that child’s testimony may not be reliable. Your defense attorney will closely review the interview transcripts and cross-examine the interviewer to expose repeated questions, leading questions that suggest the desired answers, and any other questionable practices.
The accusations of another parent or romantic partner may be discredited if your lawyer can provide proof of some motive for making false allegations. If the allegations of abuse emerge in the midst of a heated divorce or custody battle, it does not make them false. Though they certainly are suspect.
Allegations from other people who have contact with your child may be shaky for numerous reasons. A doctor or teacher may be able to observe symptoms of abuse, but that does not conclusively prove that your child was abused. More importantly, such allegations do not show that you are the perpetrator.
Furthermore, even doctors can misidentify signs of sexual assault. During the infamous 1992 Oak Hill satanic ritual abuse trial, Austin daycare operators Fran and Dan Keller were convicted of child sexual assault on the basis of statements from a doctor Years later, the doctor recanted his testimony. This is one of the reasons the Kellers were freed in 2013.
What Should I Do If I’m Accused of Molesting my Child?
If you know you are innocent, you will likely be tempted to argue your case with whoever is making the accusation. No matter if it’s your spouse, a police officer, a CPS agent, or a doctor, you must remain silent. Once the allegation drops, any statement you make can be misconstrued or used against you. What you should do instead is call a Houston sex crimes lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett.