PHILADELPHIA – "A monsignor who is the only U.S. church official ever charged with transferring pedophile priests to unsuspecting parishes will be tried alongside four priests accused of rape, a judge ruled Friday.
Common Pleas Judge Lillian Ransom denied most of the pretrial requests made by Monsignor William Lynn, two current priests, a former priest and a former Catholic schoolteacher. The men wanted their cases to be tried separately and asked for many of the charges against them to be dismissed.
Lynn, 60, the lynchpin of the case, is charged with conspiracy and child endangerment for allegedly transferring priests he believed to be pedophiles. Lynn, who served as secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004 under former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, is the only U.S. church official ever charged in the sex-abuse scandal for his administrative actions.
The four others are charged in the same criminal case with raping boys in their care. Three of them are accused of raping the same child, starting when he was a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999, according to a scathing grand jury report released in February that faulted the church for knowingly harboring priests who sexually abused children.
The Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 64, and former priest Edward Avery, 68, are accused of raping the boy in the church sacristy. Prosecutors say former sixth-grade teacher Bernard Shero, 48, raped him during a ride home from school. The fourth defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, 48, is accused of raping a 14-year-old boy in 1996.
The judge on Friday dismissed only the conspiracy charges involving Shero, saying prosecutors failed to prove he was in collusion with Avery and Engelhardt. She also rejected the defense attorneys' requests for access to the mental health records of the two accusers, who are now grown men.
Lynn's attorney, Thomas Bergstrom, objected to the judge's refusal to dismiss felony child endangerment charges against his client and his refusal to separate his trial from the others, saying the monsignor had no children under his supervision and therefore cannot be guilty of endangering them. Bergstrom asked the judge for certification to appeal to a higher court, which she denied.
If found guilty of the two charges, Lynn could be sentenced to up to 28 years in prison.
David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a victim advocacy group, praised the judge's actions.
"The Catholic church isn't some loosely-knit hippie commune. It's a rigid, secretive, tightly-knit institution," he said in a written statement. "So when crimes happen, it's disingenuous for church officials to pretend that everyone involved is disconnected from one another. . . " Read More
"A jury should decide whether a school bus service is liable for dropping a 13-year-old girl off at the wrong bus stop, exposing her to harm from a man who had sexually abused her, the Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled in an unusual wrongful-death case.
Donnisha Hill's tragic death has resulted in murder convictions for her abuser, David Damm, and the man he hired to kill her. With the appeals court's decision, it could also lead to a damages award for her parents against the bus company, First Student, Inc.
On Oct. 27, 2006, a First Student driver allowed Donnisha to get off the bus at an intersection near Damm's car dealership in Waterloo, Iowa, rather than take her to a stop near her house where her mother could see her. Damm picked Donnisha up and took her to meet his friend, Bruce Burt, who later beat her to death with a small sledge hammer.
A Black Hawk County judge cut short a jury trial of the wrongful-death lawsuit last year, finding that First Student did not need to protect Donnisha from “any and all possible harm” resulting from contact with Damm and her murder was not within the “range of harms risked by the defendant's conduct.”
Police were investigating the abuse allegations at the time of the murder. The identifiable risk, First Student argued, was not that Damm would have Donnisha killed, but that he would again sexually abuse her.
But the appeals court said the risk did not have to be so specific to be within First Student's “scope of liability.” “The plaintiffs presented evidence that First Student was aware Donnisha's bus route was changed for her overall safety in general, not just to prevent further sexual abuse,” it noted in sending the case back for a new trial.
“[T]he risk that made First Student negligent was the general risk that Donnisha would come in contact with and be physically harmed by Damm,” the court concluded.
Donnisha's parents found out Oct. 11, 2006 that she was having sex with Damm, a neighbor. After calling the police and keeping her out of school for two weeks, her mother asked First Student to change her bus route to one closer to home. . . " Read More
Friday, March 25th 2011, 4:00 AM
"Gruesome photos of a battered 4-year-old girl. Autopsy reports showing she was drugged. Twine used to tie her to a bed.
Prosecutors seeking homicide convictions for the two child welfare workers assigned to protect Marchella Brett-Pierce have several pieces of dramatic evidence - but the most damning are a few bogus computer entries.
Experts say caseworker Damon Adams' alleged attempt to cover up his failure to monitor Marchella could be a silver bullet for prosecutors.
Adams, 36, is accused of never visiting Marchella's Brooklyn home despite glaring warning signs - and fudging computer records to show he checked in on her in the months before she died.
What authorities described as record tampering shows that Adams "had an understanding of the nature of his failure to act and the potential consequences for it," said Paul Gentile, a former Bronx prosecutor. "That takes the DA a significant distance to proving his case."
"The false entry indicates that he knew that he blew it," said Shapiro. "That's the key." Read More
This case is absolutely horrendous! It sickened me to read it. It's a good example of why parents need to be cautious about who they date, live with, and marry, as many child sex offenders fall into the step-father/boyfriend category.
The following is re-printed with permission from Wendy Murphy, APRI VAWP Digest Number 1394:
THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. RENAL ALVIN MAYS, Defendant and Appellant.
COURT OF APPEAL OF CALIFORNIA, SECOND APPELLATE DISTRICT, DIVISION FOUR
2011 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1150
February 15, 2011, Filed
NOTICE: NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS. CALIFORNIA RULES OF COURT, RULE 8.1115(a), PROHIBITS COURTS AND PARTIES FROM CITING OR RELYING ON OPINIONS NOT CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION OR ORDERED PUBLISHED, EXCEPT AS SPECIFIED BY RULE 8.1115(b). THIS OPINION HAS NOT BEEN CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION OR ORDERED PUBLISHED FOR THE PURPOSES OF RULE 8.1115.
APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. KA085424. Steven D. Blades, Judge.
DISPOSITION: Affirmed as modified and remanded with directions.
COUNSEL: Vanessa Place, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.
Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C. Hamanaka, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Michael R. Johnsen and Eric E. Reynolds, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
JUDGES: MANELLA, J.; WILLHITE, Acting P. J., SUZUKAWA, J. concurred.
OPINION BY: MANELLA
Appellant Renal Alvin Mays appeals his conviction of multiple charges, including nine counts of rape and commission of lewd acts upon a child. Appellant contends that (1) the court erred in permitting the victim of an uncharged offense to testify concerning his inappropriate conduct toward her; (2) Evidence Code section 1108, which permits admission of evidence of uncharged sexual offenses to support the guilt of an alleged sexual offender, deprives him of due process and equal protection; (3) the evidence that one of his victims became pregnant and delivered a child was insufficient to support a finding of great bodily injury; and (4) the trial court imposed inappropriate determinate terms for two of the counts.1 We conclude that all except the last of appellant's contentions lack merit. Accordingly, we strike the determinate terms imposed on counts 12 and 16 and remand for correction of the abstract of judgment. We otherwise affirm.
1 Respondent concedes that the sentence imposed was not in accordance with law.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Appellant was charged in a 17-count information with false imprisonment (Pen. Code, ß 236, count one),2 child stealing (ß 278, count two), child abuse (ß 273, subd. (a), count three), forcible lewd acts upon a child (ß 288, subd. (b)(1), counts four through eight, 16 and 17), forcible rape, (ß 261, subd. (a)(2), counts nine through 13), and possession of child pornography (ß 311.11, subd. (a), count 14).3 The primary victim of the sexual abuse was appellant's step-daughter, IE, the named victim in counts one and four through 13.4 The second victim, referred to in the information and at trial as Jane Doe No. 2 was named in counts 16 and 17.5 With respect to count 12, it was further alleged that the victim incurred great bodily injury within the meaning of section 667.61, subdivision (a), (b) and (e). With respect to count 16, it was further alleged that there were multiple victims within the meaning of section 667.61, subdivision (a), (b) and (e).
2 Unless otherwise designated, statutory references are to the Penal Code.
3 A second count of possession of child pornography (count 15) was dismissed by the court as duplicative.
4 Count four stated that the lewd act occurred between May 1998 and May 1999; count five stated the lewd act occurred between May 1999 and May 2000; count six stated the lewd act occurred between May 2000 and May 2001; count seven stated the lewd act occurred between May 2001 and May 2002; count eight stated the lewd act occurred between May 2002 and May 2003; count nine stated the rape occurred between May 2003 and May 2004; count 10 stated the rape occurred between May 2004 and May 2005; count 11 stated the rape occurred between May 2005 and May 2006; count 12 stated the rape occurred between May 2006 and May 2007; count 13 stated the rape occurred between May 2007 and May 2008. IE was born in May 1989. She would have been nine in May 1998.
5 Jane Doe No. 2, whose designation derived from the fact that IE was referred to as Jane Doe No. 1 at the preliminary hearing, will be referred to herein as "Jane Doe." Both counts sixteen and seventeen stated the lewd acts occurred between June 2005 and December 2005. Jane Doe was eight at the time of the alleged lewd acts. The alleged victim in the child stealing and child abuse counts (counts two and three) was the infant son of IE, referred to at trial as John Doe. The child stealing and child abuse counts are not at issue in this appeal.
B. Evidence at Trial
a. Evidence Related to IE
The first act of sexual abuse IE recalled occurred in appellant's bedroom when she was 12. Appellant showed IE photographs which appeared to depict sexual intercourse between appellant and IE or simulated sexual acts and touching of IE by her mother, Y.A., while IE slept.6 Appellant told IE these activities, which IE could not recall, had begun when she was nine and took place after she had been given sleeping pills. Appellant placed a gun on the bed and said that he wanted to take pictures of IE. He said if IE told anyone about their activities, he would kill IE's father and ensure that IE's mother went to jail. That day, appellant took pornographic pictures of IE; the next day he performed vaginal intercourse. In the period that followed, appellant sexually abused IE countless times, either through vaginal intercourse or by forcing her to perform fellatio. Appellant also sometimes put his mouth on IE's genital area. Appellant timed his assaults so that they occurred after Y.A. had left for work in the afternoon and before appellant's son came home from football practice. IE consistently told appellant she did not want to engage in sexual acts with him.7 Appellant would get angry and choke or hit IE or threaten her with his gun. In addition, appellant repeated his threats to kill IE's father and ensure that her mother went to prison if she told anyone.
6 No photographs of IE as a young child were found or introduced into evidence.
7 IE tried to kill herself soon after the sexual abuse began by taking a bottle of asthma pills, but they only made her sick.
After IE turned 13 in 2002, the abuse became more frequent because appellant's son moved out of the family home for a period of time. In 2003, IE became pregnant and appellant took her to have an abortion without informing Y.A.8 When IE turned 14, the sexual abuse continued and the physical abuse -- hitting and choking -- became more frequent. Once, appellant hit IE's head into a wall so hard that she required stitches. As IE grew older, appellant began to control her activities in various ways, such as by forbidding her to go out with her friends, to engage in afterschool activities or to spend the night at anyone's house.
8 The defense presented records from a 2003 medical examination of IE that indicated she was not pregnant. The records did indicate that her physical state was consistent with prior sexual assault.
When IE was 15, appellant induced her through threats to say that her biological father was molesting her.9 IE subsequently told appellant it was not true. Appellant nevertheless coerced her into repeating the allegations to Y.A. and making a police report.10 The sexual and physical abuse continued when IE turned 16. In addition, after IE turned 16, appellant began taking naked photographs of IE in revealing poses.11 IE told him she did not want to be photographed. Appellant continued to issue threats against IE and her family to induce her to cooperate. When IE turned 17, she became pregnant again as appellant's abuse and threats continued. After IE turned 18 and delivered the baby, appellant persuaded Y.A. to join appellant and IE in various sexual activities.12 Appellant took multiple pictures of these activities.13
9 This occurred at a time when IE's father was attempting to gain custody of IE.
10 No charges were filed.
11 The photographs were introduced into evidence.
12 DNA testing conducted by the prosecution identified appellant as the likely father of IE's baby.
13 Photographs of appellant, IE and Y.A. engaged in sexual acts or simulated sexual acts were introduced into evidence.
Initially convinced that her baby was fathered by her boyfriend with whom she had been intimate, IE moved out of the family home and in with her boyfriend and his family for a short time. This ended when her boyfriend's mother learned through paternity testing that the baby was not the boyfriend's. In August 2008, IE moved into her own apartment with the baby. Appellant appeared at the apartment one day, while she was at school. He had moved himself in, disconnected the phone jacks and the internet connection, put locks on the windows, and changed the lock on the door to a double-key deadbolt. Thereafter, whenever IE left the apartment, appellant went with her. He kept a knife with him which he threatened to use on her if she tried to run away.
In November 2008, appellant took IE and the baby to the Department of Social Services (DSS) to obtain financial aid. Outside of appellant's presence, she let DSS personnel know about the physical and sexual abuse she had been suffering. IE was eventually directed to the sheriff's department to press charges. In the meantime, appellant disappeared with the baby.14
14 Appellant was arrested in December 2008. At the time of the arrest, appellant was locked in the bathroom of a relative's home in Los Angeles, holding the baby and a knife. He and the baby were covered in blood from appellant's apparent attempt to commit suicide by cutting his own throat. Appellant was unconscious. The baby had a weak pulse and did not appear to be breathing. An officer revived him by giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
In 2008, after giving birth to John Doe, IE told appellant's sister, Janice Taylor, that appellant had been molesting her since she was nine and that it was ongoing and sometimes involved Y.A. Taylor later stayed with IE and appellant in IE's apartment for a few days and observed that the door had a double-key deadbolt and that appellant kept the key. Sometime around this period, appellant told Taylor he was contemplating killing IE, the baby, and himself if IE "didn't get her life together" and "do what she needed to do." Appellant tried to convince Taylor that his older son was the baby's father by showing her a letter his son had purportedly written to IE. Taylor believed the letter was a forgery. Taylor was afraid to report appellant to the authorities because he had threatened her in the past and because she was concerned about family repercussions. Shortly before his arrest, appellant gave Taylor keys to a storage unit, some letters and an audiotape.15
15 Taylor gave the keys to the police. Officers searched the storage unit and found photographs, some videotapes and a compact disc. The primary subject of the photographs was IE, depicted without clothing. Similar pictures of IE were also found on a computer located in the apartment where IE and appellant had lived shortly before his arrest.
The prosecution also called appellant's son, Renal Rashaad Mays, who had begun living with appellant, Y.A. and IE when he was 12 (1998).16 Shortly thereafter, appellant began for the first time to require Rashaad to maintain a regular early bedtime. Rashaad noticed appellant giving IE Nyquil when she did not appear to be sick. This generally occurred on nights when Y.A. was at work. When Rashaad was 13 or 14, he concluded based on various observations that after Y.A. left for work, appellant had a practice of going into IE's bedroom and staying for an hour or more.17 Rashaad also noticed that appellant hugged IE in a way that did not seem appropriate for a family member. When Rashaad was 14 or 15, he said to appellant "I know what you've been doing with [IE]," and told appellant about observing him go into IE's bedroom when Y.A. was gone.18 Appellant denied abusing IE; he did not deny going into her bedroom, but gave no good reason for his actions. After Rashaad made the accusation, appellant tried to persuade Rashaad to have sex with IE, which Rashaad sometimes falsely claimed to have done to stop appellant from pressuring him.19
16 Appellant's son will be referred to as Rashaad, the name he used at the time of trial.
17 Rashaad testified that he did not actually see appellant go into IE's room, but based his conclusion on noises he heard, including the sound of doors opening and closing. In addition, he occasionally looked into appellant's room when he got up to use the bathroom and saw it empty.
18 Rashaad also asked IE if appellant was molesting her. She always said "no."
19 Rashaad eventually ran away from home and lived with a friend's family for more than a year. While he was living there, appellant showed him a gun -- an Uzi -- and warned him not to tell the friend's family about appellant's "business." Another time, after Rashaad had returned home and run away again to live with his aunt, appellant came to see him, carrying a paper bag with the Uzi in it. Appellant choked Rashaad and put the Uzi in his mouth. After that incident, Rashaad went to live with another family and never returned to live with appellant.
b. Evidence Related to Jane Doe
Jane Doe was Y.A.'s grandniece. When she was visiting Y.A. and IE overnight at the age of eight or nine, appellant came into the bedroom, pulled down her underwear and put his penis in her vagina. It happened a second time during a later visit.20 On that occasion, appellant called her into his room and closed the door. He told her to lay on the bed. He put a pillow over her head, pulled down her pants and abused her in the same way. He put some kind of cream or lotion on her either before or after. After he was finished, he poured bullets into her hands and said if she told anyone, he would kill her and her family.21 Jane Doe had nightmares for years after the incidents.
20 At trial, Jane Doe could recall only two occasions. In a videotaped interview shown to the jurors, the girl said appellant did something "he wasn't supposed to . . . mostly every day when [she went to his home]" and that she was at his home often.
21 At trial, Jane Doe could not recall being threatened with a gun. In her interview, she said appellant showed her a gun. She also stated in the interview, but not at trial, that on one occasion, appellant had a camera and took pictures of her.
Jane Doe's mother testified that the girl first reported the sexual abuse in 2006, when her mother was preparing her for another overnight visit with appellant, Y.A. and IE. The girl gave her mother various excuses to avoid going and then started to cry. Prior to that visit, Jane Doe had always been eager to see Y.A. and IE and had spent a great deal of time with them. Jane Doe told her mother that the incidents of abuse occurred between June and December 2005. Jane Doe said that appellant had threatened to kill her mother, father and sister if she told anyone about the abuse. Jane Doe and her mother reported the incidents to the police, but charges were not filed at the time.
c. Evidence Relating to Uncharged Offenses
N.T., the niece of appellant's former wife, testified that when she was visiting appellant's home at age eleven (in 1995), appellant put his hand inside her pants on top of her vagina. He said, "Oh, that's good, you're not nervous." N.T. pulled appellant's hand off and ran away. After that, she stayed away from appellant and his home, but on another occasion, appellant came to N.T.'s home when she was there alone. On that occasion, he briefly put his hand on her breast, under her clothing. A short time later, while N.T. pretended to be asleep on a sofa, he put his hand inside her pants again. This time, he put his finger inside her vagina. N.T. reported this incident to her friends, a teacher and social services. Afterward, her mother kept her away from appellant.
d. Expert Testimony
Child sexual abuse expert Dr. Jayme Jones testified that it is very common for children who have been molested by someone they know to conceal the abuse, due in part to feelings of guilt, complicity and helplessness. When abused children finally discuss the abuse with someone, they tend to reveal information in pieces, a little at a time, and the information revealed to different people can be inconsistent. If family upheaval results, the victim may retract the story. The victim also may try to direct attention away from the abuser by accusing another person of abuse.
2. Defense Evidence
The defense called a detective who had interviewed IE when Jane Doe accused appellant of sexual abuse in 2006. IE told the detective she did not believe Jane Doe, that she was responsible for watching the girl and that she had never left the girl alone with appellant.22 IE also told the detective she had been abused by her biological father and that she had never seen appellant with a gun. The detective who searched the storage facility and the apartment where IE and appellant lived prior to his arrest testified that she recovered no gun or bullets at either location.
22 IE testified that she made these statements to officers because she was afraid of appellant, and that he had become more violent after Jane Doe made the accusation.
Samantha Mays (Samantha), appellant's sister, testified that during the period Rashaad was staying with her, she called appellant to come talk to the boy because he was missing school and getting poor grades. Appellant did not have anything in his hands when he arrived and went to talk to Rashaad. Samantha heard sounds of an argument and a struggle and heard Rashaad say "he['s] got a gun." She hurried into the room, but did not see a gun. After the confrontation, Rashaad left with appellant and did not appear fearful or concerned.
Appellant testified on his own behalf. He denied sexually abusing IE when she was a child. He admitted having intercourse with IE once, when she was 17. He said that she instigated it by coming into his bed while he was asleep. He said Y.A. found out about his sexual experience with IE and he persuaded Y.A. to participate in the sexual activity shown in the photographs to ensure her silence. He denied that the photographs taken of IE at 16 were his or that he was present when they were taken. He contended they had been sent to IE by her boyfriend. He denied having knowledge of how to operate a computer and denied inputting the photographs that had been found when police seized the computer located in the apartment he and IE had shared. He denied having a gun when he confronted Rashaad at Samantha's home or at any other time. He acknowledged warning Rashaad not to tell the friend's family about his "business," but said he was referring to family problems, including problems with drugs, not anything about IE. He said that the storage unit was rented by Y.A., not by him. He denied touching N.T. He denied ever being alone with Jane Doe. He said that on her last visit, Jane Doe had been disciplined for getting lost during a trip to an amusement park. He also said there was a rift between his family and Jane Doe's family due to IE's accusations against her biological father.
Appellant further testified that he, his sons and Y.A. all moved into the apartment IE claimed to have rented on her own in August 2008. He admitted changing the locks, but said that this was his common practice and that everyone who lived there had a key. Appellant said he left IE at the DSS offices and took the baby back to the apartment because he believed she had been arrested or detained for fraud. He heard about IE's allegations weeks later from Y.A. He spoke to a detective about turning himself in and surrendering the baby. Instead, he decided to kill himself and keep the baby with him until the end. He denied hurting the baby.
C. Verdict and Sentencing
Appellant was found guilty of count one (false imprisonment), count two (child stealing), count three (child abuse), counts seven and eight (commission of lewd acts upon IE between May 2001 and May 2003), counts nine through 13 (forcible rapes of IE), count 14 (possession of child pornography), and count 16 (commission of lewd act upon Jane Doe). Appellant was found not guilty of counts four, five, six (commission of lewd acts upon IE between May 1998 and May 2001) and count 17 (commission of lewd act upon Jane Doe). The jury also found true the allegations under section 667.61 asserted in connection with counts 12 and 16 that there were multiple victims and that IE incurred great bodily injury as the result of rape.
The court sentenced appellant to a total term of 92 years to life, composed of the high term (eight years) for counts seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 16; one-third the midterm for counts one, two and three (eight months, one year, and 16 months, respectively), all to run consecutively, and a sentence of one year in the county jail for count 14, to run concurrently. The court added an indeterminate term of 25 years to life for count 16 under section 667.61. This appeal followed.
A. Evidence of Uncharged Sexual Offenses
During the trial, the prosecutor announced his intent to call N.T. to testify that appellant had improperly touched her on two occasions, both of which constituted uncharged violations of section 288, lewd acts upon a child. Appellant's counsel objected on Evidence Code section 352 grounds. The court found that the evidence was admissible under Evidence Code section 1101 to support that appellant had the intent of sexual gratification when he committed the charged sexual offenses.23 The court further found that the testimony was admissible under Evidence Code section 1108 and that its relevance was not substantially outweighed by the danger of undue prejudice.24 Appellant contends that the court erred in permitting the prosecution to introduce N.T.'s testimony because the evidence was "unduly prejudicial and cumulative as to intent under section 1101, subdivision (b)" and "unduly prejudicial and insufficiently probative under section 1108." We conclude the evidence was admissible under Evidence Code section 1108, and, therefore, do not reach the issue of its admissibility under Evidence Code section 1101.
23 Evidence Code section 1101, subdivision (a) provides that "[e]xcept as provided in this section and Sections 1102, 1103, 1108 and 1109, evidence of a person's character or a trait of his or her character (whether in the form of an opinion, evidence of reputation, or evidence of specific instances of his or her conduct) is inadmissible when offered to prove his or her conduct on a specified occasion." Subdivision (b) provides: "Nothing in this section prohibits the admission of evidence that a person committed a crime . . . or other act when relevant to prove some fact (such as motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake or accident, or whether a defendant in a prosecution for an unlawful sexual act or attempted unlawful sexual act did not reasonably and in good faith believe that the victim consented) other than his or her disposition to commit such an act."
24 Evidence Code section 1108, subdivision (a), provides: "In a criminal action in which the defendant is accused of a sexual offense, evidence of the defendant's commission of another sexual offense or offenses is not made inadmissible by section 1101, if the evidence is not inadmissible pursuant to Section 352."
The Legislature enacted Evidence Code section 1108 "to expand the admissibility of disposition or propensity evidence in sex offense cases"; "to relax the evidentiary restraints section 1101, subdivision (a), imposed"; and "to assure that the trier of fact would be made aware of the defendant's other sex offenses in evaluating the victim's and the defendant's credibility." (People v. Falsetta (1999) 21 Cal.4th 903, 911 (Falsetta).) "In this regard, section 1108 implicitly abrogates prior [judicial] decisions . . . indicating that 'propensity' evidence is per se unduly prejudicial to the defense." (Ibid.) The Legislature "'has determined that the policy considerations favoring the exclusion of evidence of uncharged sexual offenses are outweighed in criminal sexual offense cases by the policy considerations favoring the admission of such evidence'" and that "'the need for this evidence is "critical" given the serious and secretive nature of sex crimes and the often resulting credibility contest at trial.'" (Ibid., quoting People v. Fitch (1997) 55 Cal.App.4th 172, 181-182 (Fitch).) "[S]ection 1108 '"permits courts to admit such evidence on a common sense basis -- without a precondition of finding a 'non-character' purpose for which it is relevant -- and permits rational assessment by juries of evidence so admitted. This includes consideration of the other sexual offenses as evidence of the defendant's disposition to commit such crimes, and for its bearing on the probability or improbability that the defendant has been falsely or mistakenly accused of such an offense."'" (Falsetta, supra, at p. 912, quoting Letter by Assemblyman Rogan regarding Assem. Bill No. 882 (1995-1996 Reg. Sess.) published in 2 Assem. J. (1995-1996 Reg. Sess.) p. 3278.)
In determining whether to admit evidence of uncharged sexual offenses at the trial of an alleged sexual offender, the court is required to "engage in a careful weighing process under section 352" and consider such factors as "its nature, relevance, and possible remoteness, the degree of certainty of its commission and the likelihood of confusing, misleading, or distracting the jurors from their main inquiry, its similarity to the charged offense, its likely prejudicial impact on the jurors, the burden on the defendant in defending against the uncharged offense, and the availability of less prejudicial alternatives to its outright admission, such as admitting some but not all of the defendant's other sex offenses, or excluding irrelevant though inflammatory details surrounding the offense." (Falsetta, supra, 21 Cal.4th at p. 917.) "[T]he probative value of the 'other crimes' evidence is increased by the relative similarity between the charged and uncharged offenses, the close proximity in time of the offenses, and the independent sources of evidence (the victims) in each offense." (Ibid., quoting People v. Balcom (1994) 7 Cal.4th 414, 427.) Appellate review of a trial court's decision to admit evidence of uncharged sexual offenses is under the deferential abuse of discretion standard and "'"will not be disturbed . . . unless the trial court exercised its discretion in an arbitrary, capricious, or patently absurd manner that resulted in a manifest miscarriage of justice." [Citation.]'" (People v. Lewis (2009) 46 Cal.4th 1255, 1286.)
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in permitting N.T. to testify. The incidents she related were not particularly salacious or inflammatory. Nor were they remote in time when compared to the charges, which alleged that the abuse of IE began in 1998. N.T. was unrelated to IE and Jane Doe and had no connection to them. She was related to appellant's second wife and was not involved with appellant during his marriage to Y.A. She reported the incidents to third parties when they occurred in 1995, long before she could have been influenced by the other girls' accusations. Appellant contends there was no need to call the victim of uncharged incidents to bolster the credibility of the complaining witnesses because there were already multiple victims alleged. That is incorrect. IE's credibility was subject to question because she had, by her own admission, falsely accused her biological father of abuse and had, in addition, repeatedly denied that appellant was abusing her when questioned by family members and officials. Jane Doe was still a young girl at the time of trial, and her testimony was inconsistent with parts of her videotaped interview. The incidents N.T. related were sufficiently similar to the offenses of which appellant was accused to assist the jury in its determination of the complaining witness's credibility and his guilt. All involved young girls related to appellant by marriage, who had spent time with him and his family and were comfortable in his presence. N.T.'s age -- 11 -- was similar to Jane Doe's on the occasions when she was molested and IE's when she suffered the first instance of abuse that she recalled. Although appellant did not go as far with N.T. as he had with the other victims, that can be explained by the fact that N.T. fought back by removing his hand and running away on the first occasion and by the fact that on the other occasion, they were in her home where appellant could not be sure of privacy. As the court stated in People v. Soto (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 966, 991-992: "[T]he propensity evidence was extremely probative of appellant's sexual misconduct when left alone with young female relatives, and is exactly the type of evidence contemplated by the enactment of section 1108 and the parallel federal rules. The prejudice presented by this evidence is the type inherent in all propensity evidence and does not render the evidence inadmissible."
2. Constitutional Issues
Appellant further contends that N.T.'s testimony should not have been admitted because admission of such evidence violated his right to due process and equal protection.
In Falsetta, the Supreme Court examined whether admitting propensity evidence under Evidence Code section 1108 violated the defendant's constitutional right to due process and concluded: "[T]he trial court's discretion to exclude propensity evidence under section 352 saves section 1108 from defendant's due process challenge. . . . 'By subjecting evidence of uncharged sexual misconduct to the weighing process of section 352, the Legislature has ensured that such evidence cannot be used in cases where its probative value is substantially outweighed by the possibility that it will consume an undue amount of time or create a substantial danger of undue prejudice, confusion of issues, or misleading the jury. [Citation.]'" (Falsetta, supra, 21 Cal.4th at p. 917, quoting Fitch, supra, 55 Cal.App.4th at p. 183.) With respect to the prospect that equal protection precluded the Legislature from crafting an exception to the propensity for sexual offenders only, the court stated: "'The Legislature is free to address a problem one step at a time or even to apply the remedy to one area and neglect others. [Citation.]'" (21 Cal.4th at p. 918, quoting Fitch, supra, 55 Cal.App.4th at pp. 184-185.) The Supreme Court's determinations are controlling. (Auto Equity Sales, Inc. v. Superior Court (1962) 57 Cal.2d 450, 455.)
B. Pregnancy as Support for Great Bodily Injury Allegation
The prosecutor argued that the allegation that IE suffered great bodily injury as the result of rape was established by the fact that she became pregnant at age 17 from one of appellant's sexual assaults. Appellant contends that the jury's true finding was not supported because there was no specific testimony about the pregnancy and its physical impact on IE. We disagree.
The term great bodily injury is defined as "'substantial injury beyond that inherent in the offense.'" (People v. Cross (2008) 45 Cal.4th 58, 64, quoting People v. Escobar (1992) 3 Cal.4th 740, 746 (italics omitted).) To be significant or substantial, "the injury need not be so grave as to cause the victim '"permanent," "prolonged," or "protracted"' bodily damage." (45 Cal.4th at p. 64, quoting People v. Escobar, supra, at p. 750.) "Proof that a victim's bodily injury is 'great' . . . is commonly established by evidence of the severity of the victim's physical injury, the resulting pain, or the medical care required to treat or repair the injury." (45 Cal.4th at p. 66.) In Cross, the Supreme Court rejected the notion that a pregnancy, without medical complications, that results from unlawful intercourse was insufficient to support a finding of great bodily injury. (People v. Cross, supra, 45 Cal.4th at pp. 63, 65-66.) The court held that determining whether the victim has suffered physical harm amounting to great bodily injury was not a question of law for the court, but a factual inquiry to be resolved by the jury in the context of the particular crime and the particular victim. (Id. at pp. 63, 65.) There, the court found that evidence that the victim was 13, had never been pregnant before, and carried the fetus for 22 weeks before undergoing an abortion was sufficient to support the great bodily injury finding. (Id. at p. 66.)
Here, the evidence established that IE became pregnant at the age of 17 and carried the baby to term. Pregnancy in a 17-year old girl cannot be considered a trivial or insignificant condition, involving as it does major physical changes and bodily impairment affecting her long-term health and well-being. (People v. Sargent (1978) 86 Cal.App.3d 148, 151 [rape-induced pregnancy in 17-year old girl "amount[ed] to significant and substantial bodily injury or damage" due to physical changes and impairment that followed].) Although IE was not asked to provide the particulars of her personal experience, as in Cross, the jurors were urged by the prosecution to use their common sense and their knowledge of the difficulties associated with being pregnant and the pain of labor and delivery. While appellant suggests IE's pregnancy might have been "easy" and her labor "painless," the jury was not required to draw such inferences. Rather, the jurors could reasonably have found that IE suffered serious injury as a result of being unwillingly impregnated by appellant, carrying the fetus to term and delivering a baby. In short, the evidence was sufficient to support the great bodily injury finding.
The sentence imposed on appellant included two determinate terms of eight years and one indeterminate term of 25 years to life for counts 12 and 16, the two counts under which the jury made special findings. The court purported to act under section 667.61. Appellant contends, and respondent agrees, that the trial court erred in imposing the two determinate terms, and that the determinate terms must be stricken. We agree.
Section 667.61 provides in part that where a person is convicted of certain offenses -- including rape (ß 261) and commission of lewd acts upon a child (ß 288) -- and where more than one of the circumstances specified in subdivision (e) of the statute are found to be true -- including infliction of great bodily injury and commission of the offenses against more than one victim -- the offender shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of 25 years to life. The statute requires the sentence it prescribes to be imposed and divests the trial court of the authority to do otherwise. (People v. Hammer (2003) 30 Cal.4th 756, 761.) The Supreme Court has held that section 667.61 is not a sentencing enhancement because "'it is not an "additional term of imprisonment" and it is not added to a "base term."'" (People v. Acosta (2002) 29 Cal.4th 105, 118, quoting People v. Jefferson (1999) 21 Cal.4th 86, 101.) Rather it "'sets forth an alternative and harsher sentencing scheme for certain enumerated sex crimes' when a defendant commits one of those crimes under specified circumstances." (29 Cal.4th at p. 118, quoting People v. Mancebo (2002) 27 Cal.4th 735, 741.) By sentencing appellant to determinate terms for counts 12 and 16 and then adding the 25 year to life sentence under section 667.61, the court improperly treated the provision as an enhancement, rather than as an alternate sentencing scheme. The improper portions of the sentence -- the determinate terms for counts 12 and 16 -- must be stricken.
The determinate sentences imposed on counts 12 and 16 are stricken. In all other respects the judgment is affirmed. The clerk of the superior court is directed upon issuance of the remittitur to prepare a corrected abstract of judgment and forward it to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL REPORTS
WILLHITE, Acting P. J.
By Nate Anderson
"If a middle-aged man meets a 14-year-old girl, coerces her to film a 10-second clip of herself masturbating, then intentionally releases that clip on the Internet, the man could clearly be charged under US federal law against the “sexual exploitation of children.” But what happens when the “man” is a 14-year-old boy who the 14-year old girl likes? And what if the "coercion" to make the film is the boy's threat not to befriend the girl in their new high school without the video?
An ongoing federal court case in Kentucky is currently trying to answer some of the thorniest questions surrounding "sexting," the practice of sending sexually explicit photographs or videos to friends or lovers. Rules designed to stop predatory adults from taking advantage of children become murkier when both parties involved in sexting are kids; in fact, no federal precedent exists for these kinds of sexting suits against minors.
A new ruling in the Kentucky case will allow that lawsuit to move forward, however, with the judge deciding that even 14-year olds can be child pornographers. . . " Read More
AP National Writer
" In support of this stance, 18 friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed by 70 groups, ranging from liberal to conservative, which are concerned about overzealous child-protection policies and encroachment on parental rights.One reason for the high interest: Experts say it's the first major case involving child-protection services to go before the Supreme Court in 21 years. . . " Read More
Main Category: Women's Health / Gynecology
Article Date: 16 Feb 2011 - 0:00 PST
"For many women in violent relationships, leaving is not an option. Yet a woman's arsenal of defenses for resisting violence critically depends on her position within the family and community, according to new research from Concordia University published in the journal Review of Radical Political Economics.
"Women's resistance is often conceptualized only as exit, which is problematic," says study author Stephanie Paterson, a professor in the Concordia University Department of Political Science and member of the Centre for Research in Human Development.
"We know that violence increases upon separation. Focusing on exit obscures the experiences of women who are unwilling and/or unable to leave," says Paterson, who is also a fellow at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Canada's pioneering college in the field of women's studies.
Paterson's study found that, contrary to popular theory, wealth is not a guaranteed escape from an abusive relationship. It's just one of many factors that can help a woman resist violence. Those factors can be tangible, such as access to a caring personal network. They can be intangible, such as her partner's perception of her resources, and his perception of her role within the family. If a partner perceives a woman as being in a strong position to resist, he's more likely to reconsider being violent towards her."
How battered women can push back . . . Read More
What has been described in the article below are classic signs of elder abuse. Every year, thousands of elders are abused by family or caretakers. What is elder abuse? It's "any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult."
Some examples of elder abuse are verbal abuse, such as screaming, shouting, cussing, belittling, intimidation, or deliberate infliction of mental pain. Physical abuse can be shoving, pushing, slapping, bruising, or throwing objects at the elder; with-holding of food or nourishment, medical attention, or care of bodily needs; imprisonment, or deliberately cutting off contact with others, and taking control of their finances, and assets, without legal consent.
Christopher Aber, 52, was ordered on Monday to stay at least 100 yards away from Rooney, 90, and his Los Angeles area home. Aber is the son of Rooney's eighth wife Jan.
"Chris has blocked Mickey's access to his mail and will not provide Mickey with any information about his finances, other than to tell him that Mickey is broke."
A local lawyer was given temporary conservatorship powers over Rooney and his estate, at the actor's request, in a ruling by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.
According to court papers, Aber is a regular but unannounced visitor to Rooney's home, and the diminutive actor who was once a close friend and co-star of Judy Garland in the Andy Hardy movies hides in his room to avoid his stepson.
"He threatens, intimidates, bullies and harasses Mickey," according to papers in support of the stay-away order. "Mickey is effectively a prisoner in his home." Read More
Journal of Forensic & Legal Medicine, Volume 16, Issue 8, Pages 455-459 (November 2009)
Sexual abuse of children. A comparative study of intra and extra-familial cases:
"The existing data suggest that individuals experiencing intra-familial abuse are affected more significantly than those experiencing extra-familial abuse. This study aims to identify possible differences between these types of abuse.
A retrospective study was performed based on medico-legal reports related to children suspected of being sexually abused (n=1054).
The results revealed that 40.2% of the suspected abuses were intra-familial and were significantly different than extra-familial cases with respect to the following: (a) the complainants were younger; (b) their relationship to the alleged abuser was closer; (c) the alleged abusers had higher rates of previous sexual abuse; (d) the suspected abuses were less intrusive physically; (e) there was less physical but more psychological violence; (f) the delay between the last abuse and the medico-legal examination was greater; and (g) there were fewer physical signs and DNA evidence (none in the great majority of cases).
These results highlight aspects of intra-familial abuse that have been identified as factors influencing the severity of its consequences – physically, these instances of abuse were less intrusive but psychologically they were more intrusive than extra-familial abuse. This justifies the use of different strategies in the diagnosis and support for victims within the family..."
"A former policeman has been branded 'every parent's worst nightmare' after committing a string of sex offences against children.
Daniel Lishman has been jailed for life and will serve a minimum of 11 years before being considered for parole.
He used jobs as a mobile dog-groomer and a TV licensing officer to help him carry out at least eight offences and also posed as a policeman to indecently assault two young girls, Coventry Crown Court heard."
Cuffed: Daniel Lishman is believed to have committed his first crime while working as an officer for Northamptonshire Police
" The 37-year-old, of Thorpe Street, Raunds, Northamptonshire, was convicted at previous hearings of 26 counts and asked for four others to be considered.
The charges, including one of rape and 12 of sexual assault, related to a total of 13 victims, including three with disabilities or learning difficulties, as well as hundreds of indecent images of children.
Lishman, who was a serving police constable when his first crime was committed, was arrested in April last year after attacking a 12-year-old girl while pretending to check on a boiler at an address in Southam, Warwickshire.
Judge Peter Carr was told that Lishman, who served with Northamptonshire Police between 1995 and 2002, was linked to a string of other offences after detectives who arrested him found a camera memory card hidden in one of his socks.
The card contained images showing Lishman posing indecently near an eight-year-old girl, who had been 'blindfolded' using a pair of taped-up goggles in the back of his dog-grooming van.
Passing sentence at Coventry Crown Court, Judge Carr told Lishman: 'About ten years or so ago, you began what can only be described as your systematic sexual abuse of your victims, who were in the main very young children.'"
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 9:22 AM on 25th January 2011
" A mother who gave birth to her daughter in a hospital toilet said staff had ignored her desperate screams for help.
Sharon Willoughby, 40, and her partner Richard Sum said they also rang the emergency alarm but waited in vain for 15 minutes because staff thought 'she wanted a cup of tea'.
Miss Willoughby had gone into the birthing unit at King's Mill Hospital in Nottinghamshire in November last year and was given drugs to induce the birth."
"'Desperate calls': Sharon Willoughby, 40, and her partner Richard Sum, 38, with their ten-week-old daughter Felicity at their home in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire
But she claims she was not internally examined and went to the bathroom because of excruciating pain a few hours later that evening.
She quickly gave birth and Richard had to scoop his daughter Felicity out of the toilet bowl.
They claim they called out for help and pulled the emergency cord but no one came.
Richard then helped Sharon back from the toilet - carrying the child still attached by the cord - before rushing to get help as Sharon was losing blood.
Now the pair are considering legal action after the blunder.
"Sharon believes staff and midwives ignored her when she told them the pain was increasing."
"'We were there for 15 minutes holding the baby, pulling the alarm - but nothing happened'
She said: 'It was very frightening, horrible. I don't know if they were bored with the job but they didn't take any notice.
'They were cold, so it was already not a nice experience at all.
'Felicity was still attached with Richard holding her, it was slow progress.
'We didn't know what was happening, no one was coming. We were later told they thought I was calling for a cup of tea.'"
"Sharon, who has had two other children, needed a blood transfusion because of the amount of blood she lost and was in hospital for three more days.
He said: 'Sharon went to the bathroom and started screaming. I went in and as she crouched down I saw something come out.
'We didn't know what it was but Sharon felt the pain go. Our baby was in the toilet and Sharon looked round and realised she had given birth.
'We were there for 15 minutes holding the baby, pulling the alarm - but nothing happened.'"
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, says it's a travesty
Tuesday January 25,2011
"TENS of thousands of patients with dementia are being forced into care residences long before they need to go, a leading charity has claimed.
Around 50,000 are receiving so little help from council carers, that their loved ones are being forced to put them into a home."
"A report by the Alzheimer’s Society has revealed a shocking picture of the fate of dementia patients, with many left malnourished, in soiled incontinence pads and bedridden because of the poor service provided by private and state-funded home carers."
" One woman reported how staff from a private firm of carers ate her husband’s food and slept instead of helping to clean, change and feed him.
Councils around the country are slashing spending on care for the elderly. Many have already made it harder for families to qualify for home help, leaving children and spouses with no choice but to put their loved one in a home or spend their savings on buying private home help. Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “It is a travesty that so many people with dementia are being forced to struggle without the care and support they need.”'
"There are about 750,000 people in Britain with dementia, half of whom have Alzheimer’s disease. About 500,000 are cared for in the community by their spouse or their children.
But many elderly spouses need help to feed, wash and change the bedclothes of their loved ones as they themselves are too weak.
Local councils often send in home carers to do this, who they employ directly or contract in from private firms. But the quality of service varies wildly. Some carers are almost untrained while others have only a few minutes with each family, and hardly have time to get patients out of bed with no hope of helping to wash or feed them. . . "'
Read more: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/225097/Scandal-of-50-000-dementia-victims-torn-from-familiesScandal-of-50-000-dementia-victims-torn-from-families#ixzz1C3hHDK29
" With the help of their 1.8 petaflop supercomputer, Jaguar, researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are sifting through internet traffic in search of suspicions patterns that will lead police to the perpetrators of child pornography. In standard police work, checking a suspect's hard drive will show whether they have been downloading illegal content such as child pornography. But catching the criminals that produce such material in the first place is even more important, because they can often lead police to the children who are being abused. It is far from easy, since you can't necessarily tell who took the illicit images stored on a hard drive. The problem with policing child pornography online is that there is simply too much of it, says Grier Weeks, executive director of the National Association to Protect Children. "We could quadruple our law enforcement dedicated to this problem overnight, and they'd still be overwhelmed," he says. He approached the computer scientists at Oak Ridge in search of a solution, "They were genuinely stunned and moved by what they'd heard," he told New Scientist. "And within a week they were making a visit to the Knoxville Internet Crimes Against Children task force". . . "
" With the help of their 1.8 petaflop supercomputer, Jaguar, researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee are sifting through internet traffic in search of suspicions patterns that will lead police to the perpetrators of child pornography.
In standard police work, checking a suspect's hard drive will show whether they have been downloading illegal content such as child pornography. But catching the criminals that produce such material in the first place is even more important, because they can often lead police to the children who are being abused. It is far from easy, since you can't necessarily tell who took the illicit images stored on a hard drive.
The problem with policing child pornography online is that there is simply too much of it, says Grier Weeks, executive director of the National Association to Protect Children. "We could quadruple our law enforcement dedicated to this problem overnight, and they'd still be overwhelmed," he says.
He approached the computer scientists at Oak Ridge in search of a solution, "They were genuinely stunned and moved by what they'd heard," he told New Scientist. "And within a week they were making a visit to the Knoxville Internet Crimes Against Children task force". . . "
10 children rescued from smugglers in Phoenix
By AMANDA LEE MYERS
The Associated Press
Friday, December 3, 2010; 8:16 PM
PHOENIX -- "Ten children have been rescued from human smugglers who threatened to rape and kill some of them if their parents didn't pay more money for their entry into the U.S., authorities said Friday.
The children, from 2 to 17 years old, were smuggled from Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala, and were being held against their will at a drop house in Phoenix, authorities said. Only one of them was being brought into the country with a parent.
The smugglers threatened to rape and kill three El Salvadoran sisters ages 12, 14 and 16 if their mother didn't pay them $10,000, Arizona Department of Public Safety Capt. Fred Zumbo said.... Read More
BY Jonathan Lemire
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Friday, November 26th 2010, 4:00 AM
"The Staten Island teenager who was baby-sitting her boyfriend's 2-year-old son when he died was arrested Thursday - and the child's father also could face charges, police sources said.
Dubois, 18, admitted she shook Josiah but claims she did so only after the child stopped breathing, police said.
The city medical examiner ruled Josiah's death a homicide. Dubois, who was initially arrested for endangering the welfare of a child, could face additional charges, the police sources said.
The autopsy also revealed that Josiah had suffered injuries over an extended period of time.
Dubois blamed the boy's father, her boyfriend, whom she claimed had been beating the child, the sources said. Police were questioning the dad, 28-year-old Darrell Taylor, late yesterday.
Taylor told cops he was at work when the toddler lost consciousness, but investigators are trying to determine whether he - or another adult - previously injured the child, the sources said.
Dubois is to be arraigned today in Staten Island Criminal Court."
Detective Deal was the lead investigator on the Tonya Craft criminal investigation. He was assigned the case on 5/27/08, since he heads child abuse investigations. The case was handed over to Deal from Detective Keith on 5/24/08. There have been numerous questions, as well as on line accusations, regarding his investigation; as well as his missing summary, which just happened to be found during the middle of the trial.
In the beginning, Deal had interviewed one child and felt it was a child on child situation. He testified that the first child never mentioned Tonya Craft. Detectives Deal & Kraft showed up at Craft’s home on 5/28/08. At that time, Detective Deal didn't have a search warrant to search Craft's home for pornography.
He later testified that he didn't have probable cause to obtain the warrant. Detective Deal was soundly criticized on line, and criticism of his investigative abilities increased, since he didn't search Tonya Craft's house for pornography, considering that complaints of child sexual abuse had been lodged against Craft.
The fact is the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects our rights and guards against unreasonable search and seizure. It specifically requires that there be probable cause:
" The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."1
The question is, was there sufficient reason, at that time, to believe there was probable cause? According to the various cases below, it doesn't appear so, especially since Detective Deal had just received the case the day before. He was just beginning his investigation and the SANE nurse hadn't even examined the children at that point. All you had at that time were complaints.
More importantly, what was there, at that time, to directly link Tonya Craft to any child pornography on a computer? Had she shown any pornographic pictures or videos to the children? No. Had she talked about any such photos or videos to the children? No. Had she said anything of the kind to anyone else? No. Had anyone reported seeing child pornography on her computer? No, not as far as I could see from the reports of the trial.
" In cases of child sexual molestation, the investigator should consider and evaluate (and consult with appropriate experts) whether the suspect in the individual case displays behavior consistent with that commonly displayed by preferential child molesters. . . " Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis For Law Enforcement Officers Investigating Cases of Child Sexual Exploitation
It's been pointed out by fellow blogger, William Anderson, that it's well known that child molesters usually have child porn on their computers. Well, that's true - to a point. However, while studies and statistics have shown a strong link between child pornography and child sexual abuse, it should be remembered that the detectives were dealing with an accused female.
Most child sex abusers are male and almost all pornographic material is created and/or kept by lone males not females. Please check out the following link: Child Pornography Patterns From NIBRS.
In addition, even if you're dealing with a male sex offender, it appears, according to statutes, that that alone may not be enough to obtain a search warrant for pornography on the computer. There must be sufficient evidence and the search warrant must be specific; for example, a statement from an expert behavioral analyst showing the probable link.
Other excellent links & statutes:
2. See United States v. Crespo-Rios, __ F. Supp. 2d __, 2009 WL 1595463 (D. Puerto Rico June 5, 2009)
3. See Hodson, 543 F.3d at 287; United States v. Hodson, 543 F.3d 286 (6th Cir. 2006)
4. See United States v. Falso, 544 F.3d 110, 123 (2d Cir. 2008)
Spoliation of Evidence?
According to reports, during testimony, King asked Detective Deal about his interview summary. "Deal couldn't find the summary", then supposedly found it mid-way through the trial. The summary filled in the missing pieces of a child's interview with Suzie Thorne on June 3, 2008. It showed that the child came back afterwards to suddenly disclose digital penetration to Ms. Thorne and Detective Keith. The video was not turned on during the disclosure nor were any notes taken.
During the trial Detective Deal referred to his case book regarding Keith's summary and that interview. Testimony, written up on Chattanoogan.com:
“It was in this interview that (unnamed) disclosed that Tonya had touched her inside her clothes, wasn’t it?”
“I believe it was, would you like to look that up in my case book? I wouldn’t want to speculate.”
“We wouldn’t want you to speculate, either.”
"After finding it, he replied in the affirmative."2
"Because Catoosa County sheriff’s detective Steve Keith handed off this case to Deal, Deal refers to Keith's interview summary and case summary."
According to the current suit filed by Tonya Craft's attorneys, listed on Chattanoogan.com, Keith's summary was supposedly first dictated 7/08/08 and typed on 7/27/08.
These interviews are the same day the victim said, off-camera, that Craft inserted her fingers in the victim's vagina . . . " It's interesting to note that it was over a month before Keith even dictated his note and almost 6 weeks before it was typed up. Yet, he had taken no notes?
I would have questioned that right there. How could anyone possibly remember accurate details a month later, especially, if they didn't take any notes? My next question would be to ask how often Detective Keith waited a month to dictate his notes? Was this a common thing with all of his cases or just this once?
"Deal testified that the proper procedure would have been to get the victim back on camera," but that didn't happen in this case. Instead, no notes were written and the video wasn't turned back on. A serious breach of protocol. I don't care how you look at it. Whether or not they were suspicious of her story they should still have followed protocol.
I don't know how they do it in their fields but in our field we don't have the option to choose whether or not we're going to follow standard policy & procedures which are designed to protect everyone.
Those videos taken aren't supposed to be used, or shouldn't be used, only to prove child sexual abuse. It seems to me, they could also have shown a serious lack of credibility on the part of the child, which might have aided in proving Tonya's innocence. So, I have to question, once again, as to why the video was never turned back on or notes taken at that time?
In any case, I believe it would have been difficult to explain to the jury why there had to be two videos made. Did they feel that might undermine their case? Unfortunately, only those two know.
Whether by paper or video, the importance of accurate, factual, timely, documentation can never be stressed enough. See what happens when people don't follow protocol?
What is Spoliation?
In our field, it's medical record tampering. According to Charles C Sharpe's, Medical Record Review and Analysis3, " It's wrongfully adding to, deleting, or otherwise changing information that is already contained in a medical record."
" Any note or other document ... that has been amended and/or corrected in some way has been altered. The converse may not be the case if the intent is not to amend or clarify but to deceive and conceal." This could be applied to almost any record, whether created by the medical field, CAC, or the police department.
All medical providers are supposed to "maintain the integrity, truth, accuracy, and reliability of the patient's medical record." Just as medical providers are supposed to maintain the integrity of the medical record, so too are all employees of the CAC, members of the MDT team, and the police department, supposed to maintain the integrity of their own records.
To do otherwise, not only invites criticism regarding competence but also suspicion of fraud. In the medical field, all providers submit their billing to insurance companies. That includes places like hospitals, physician offices, clinics,and labs.
If they provide any kind of medical care, and submit billing for services, they must follow state and federal regulations. When signing and submitting for billing, technically, they're verifying that the service was done correctly and that the records are complete and accurate.
If they submit billing based upon those records, and those records are incomplete, have been tampered with, or falsified, that may constitute fraud. I know this from ten years of working in the Home Health Care field. All of our charts were audited before they were sent to Medicare. If everything didn't match up correctly, we could be accused of fraud.
The CAC's receive grant funding just like our SANE units. If any records are incomplete or missing, are fraudulent, and the unit bills for those services, as if they're complete and correct, that may possibly constitute fraud as well.
According to the Nurse's Legal Handbook, "Evidence of tampering can cause the record to be ruled inadmissible as evidence in court."
Not maintaining the integrity of all records may seriously impair or even destroy a criminal or civil case.
I've included a link to the National Children's Alliance Standards for Accredited Members.
This is an excellent site which shows the standards to which all CAC and MDT agencies and personnel are to comply with, including forensic interviewing, coordination of services, limiting the number of interviews children are subjected to, and complete, factual, accurate documentation.
What Constitutes Tampering?
I have contacted Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA and Brandon A. Perron, CCDI, Board Certified Defense Investigator, and National Director for the Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council, Director of Investigations. Both are very experienced, award winning, highly respected professionals in their fields.
Lt. Raymond Foster, author of "Police Technology" (Prentice Hall, July 2004) and numerous articles, has a BA in Criminal Justice Management, a Masters in Public Finance and is currently finishing his doctoral studies.
In addition to his writing, Lieutenant Foster is an adjunct faculty member at the Union Institute & University and is the founder and principal consultant of Hi Tech Criminal Justice. His consulting projects involve work with the Department of Homeland Security, several universities and non-profit agencies.
1. I'm assuming, as of 2008, these reports were hand written at the scene? Deal testified he had written it while there. The reason I'm asking has to deal with forensic document examination for pen ink as opposed to printer ink.
[Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA] Many of my answers are going to be very similar – it depends. Reports are generally written away from the scene – at the station, in the car, somewhere else – they are written after the investigation, interviews, etc. Most agencies do still handwrite – but, what was the policy at that time – did they record their reports for later transcription, did they have a report writing computer program, etc.
2. If he wrote his report at the scene, would he have written on a plain notepad or legal pad or is there a special notebook detectives usually carry? I'm going to assume the notes were dated and timed, correct?
[Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA] Date/time depend on training and policy – notes of an interview would likely be handwritten – Some agencies provide an official notebook which is to be kept – a field officers notebook for recording facts. Most do not. I presume notes would be on plain paper.
3. If he wrote on a regular notepad or legal pad, are those notepads usually kept?[Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA] They should be – but depends on policy of the agency.
4. Would he have likely transcribed his notes to computer when returning back to the police department?[Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA] Again, depends.
5. While working as an investigator for our MD Board of Physicians, I had an individual log in. Everything we did by computer was logged in, monitored and kept. Is that the same with the police department?
[Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA] It depends on the system they use – a medium to large agency would, as a matter of course, likely record log-in times, etc. A smaller one might just have a desk top.
6. Det. Deal testified he carried a case review book. He read from it at trial. Could that be the notebook he would have written in the day of the interview? Are those case review books reviewed by superiors prior to testifying? How about peer reviews?
[Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA] Depends on policy, but a best practice would be for a supervisor to review the casebook – it should contain all notes, interviews, copies of reports, evidence logs, etc. It is the working file of the case.
7. Who else in the PD should have known about and or seen that note prior to trial?[Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA] There is no way to know this.
8. How likely is it that a detective could insert a document into the files long after the fact without getting caught?
[Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA] Depends on internal oversight and the type of case book – a case book with a chronological file (best practice) would indicate when each interview, notes, evidence, analysis, etc. was completed, in chronological order – this makes slipping something in difficult.
Question, please: for me, "tabbed" means Bates stamping. I'm used to plaintiff medical records being organized & Bates stamped, numbering each page. Could that be what Det. Deal was referring to or does that word mean something different to police?
The “tabbing” could mean quite a few things. It certainly could be the stamp or tab used to number the documents for disclosure. If so, I would think the defense would be able to say that they did not receive one. However, in most criminal trials, the disclosure, relative to notes, etc, is much more simple – everything is simply photocopied and delivered. I don’t think there is any actual accounting or stamping done. A bates” stamp would be used if the document would an addendum to a motion, or warrant, etc.
The term tabbing could mean a lot of things- sometimes, agencies work with a specific format – and they are required to have certain documents, in a certain order, with certain “tabs” Like a work folder, essentially.
Brandon Perron, author of , Uncovering Reasonable Doubt: The Component Method, was named one of the “Top Ten Private Investigation Leaders in the United States” by P.I. Magazine in 1998; is an former U.S. Air Force Criminal Defense Investigator and National Director of The Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council. In 2007, Case in Point, of Boston, MA, and Manchester, NH, named Brandon Perron its Strategic Operations Director. Mr. Perron provides management support and training for CIP's Criminal Investigation division. Mr. Perron was kind enough to grant me permission to extensively quote his article and website.
According to the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners ( ABFDE), " The examination of questioned documents consist of the analysis and comparison of questioned handwriting, hand printing...commercial printing, photocopies, papers, inks ... in order to establish the authenticity of contested material, as well as the detection of alterations."
FDE's can determine whether questioned documents were all created at the same time, at a later date, or on a different machine. The Electrostatic Detection apparatus (ESDA) and the Indentation Materializer (IMED) can show latent impressions on underlying paper. Whenever we hand write something on paper, an imprint of our writing is made onto the underlying paper.
If you have a group of papers kept in chronological order, each paper will have created latent indentations on the paper below it. An FDE will attempt to match up those impressions. This test can help determine when documents were originally written.
Original documents typed on computers can be examined to determine the manufacturer, different fonts, typeface, impressions, etc. Paper can be identified through the manufacturer.Ink can be identified easily enough.
Every January first, the federal government requires an ink change. This helps to determine when a certain ink was manufactured. In one case, it was determined that a medical chart, finally produced for discovery, was actually written two years after the incident.
In the case written about above, not only was the "chart" written in a different year's ink than it should have been, but the FDE testified that the entire chart was written in the same ink. No one writes for months on end with the exact same ink pen!
Even if the person uses the same brand of pen all the time, each individual pen can be differentiated. In other words, he said it looked like the defendant had sat down and written it all in one sitting.
The office photocopier machine can also be examined for its "Xerox Trash." Every time the copier is used, it leaves behind minuscule scratches and marks on each sheet of paper. If you xerox one bundle at a time, every page will show the same matching scratches.
However, once the machine is shut off, then re-started again, a different set of scratches and marks will be produced. Each time the copier is used, it will produce a different set of marks.
In that respect, each individual or set of sheets is like a fingerprint. This is very helpful in determining whether pages have been added, altered, or removed. Microscopy is also used to examine staple holes, folds, creases, etc.
1. Constitution of the United states.
2. Lanning, Kenneth V., Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis For Law Enforcement Officers Investigating Cases of Child Sexual Exploitation, Behavioral Science Unit Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia, Supervisory Special Agent. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, December 1992, Third Edition
2. Sharpe, Charles C. Medical Records Review and Analysis, Westport, CT: Auborn House, 1999
3. Quinn, Campion. The Medical Record As a Forensic Resource, Sudbury, MA: Jones and Barlett Publishers, 2005
5.Foster, Raymond E., LT., LAPD, ret., MPA
6. Perron, Brandon A, CCDI,
There was a reason why I wrote the previous "scenario" like I did. The whole scene seemed just really bizarre to me. I honestly can't imagine any professional I've ever worked with behaving like that.
When I look at a certain case, or situation, I tend to look closely at the behavior of each of those involved and ask myself if their behavior makes any sense. Is it logical? Is it believable?
What we had in this situation were two professionals interviewing an alleged victim at the time. Description of the scene was written in the previous post. Detective Keith had been with the Sheriff's Department since 1999 and Ms. Thorne had completed almost 1000 interviews. These are two people who should certainly have known interviewing protocol backwards and forwards.
I find it extremely difficult to believe that both of these experienced professionals simply forgot all of a sudden. I mean, we all forget things, even while doing a case. But both of them? At the same time? I'm sorry, It just doesn't make any sense to me. It's not logical. And it's not believable.
So, I did what I usually do and try to put myself in their place. I take a good look at the facts of the case. Then I ask myself questions like:
There is a reason why I wrote about the waiting room area and the fact that our own DSS waiting room was just outside the door. Whenever our kids came out, it was maybe all of about five seconds that they were at my side. Once they were out the door, the door closed and that was it. We were out of there.
I have no idea what the lay out is of their facility. However, considering that we're dealing with a young child at the time, I doubt the child would have just been left to return to her mother, then back to Ms. Thorne, on her own, if there had been any distance. Kids aren't allowed to go roaming far by themselves.
And, like I said, if it had been me, I would have taken the child by the hand back to the interviewer. In fact, as a parent or foster parent, had I known about such a disclosure, I would have made sure the interviewer was aware of it myself.
Come to think of it, I did do that, only by telephone, when I observed abnormal behavior the very first day I had the siblings. It seems very strange to me that any mother wouldn't have gone to Ms. Thorne's door with her child.
The reason I pointed this out in my post is that it appears that by the time the child returned, the detective was already in the room and Suzie Thorne was labeling DVD's. So, it seems to me that it must have taken the child more than a few seconds to return.
Which indicates to me that the child possibly spent more than a just few seconds with the mother before she suddenly "remembered" that particular something she forgot to tell Ms. Thorne.
Accusations abound regarding questionable behavior on the part of Detectives Deal, Keith and Forensic Interviewer, Suzie Thorne, during the investigation and trial of Tonya Craft.
For the purpose of this article, I have researched information provided from news reports, fellow bloggers, such as William Anderson, and list groups; as well as the standards and guidelines for child sexual abuse investigation, criminal investigation, interviewing techniques, and forensic interviewing of possible child abuse victims, etc.
I also contacted Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA and Brandon A. Perron, CCDI, Director of Investigations. Both are very experienced, award winning, highly respected professionals in their fields.
Lt. Raymond Foster, author of "Police Technology" (Prentice Hall, July 2004) and numerous articles, has a BA in Criminal Justice Management, a Masters in Public Finance and is currently finishing his doctoral studies.
In addition to his writing, Lieutenant Foster is an adjunct faculty member at the Union Institute & University and is the founder and principal consultant of Hi Tech Criminal Justice. His consulting projects involve work with the Department of Homeland Security, several universities and non-profit agencies.
Brandon Perron, author of , Uncovering Reasonable Doubt: The Component Method, was named one of the “Top Ten Private Investigation Leaders in the United States” by P.I. Magazine in 1998; is an former U.S. Air Force Criminal Defense Investigator and National Director of The Criminal Defense Investigation Training Council. In 2007, Case in Point, of Boston, MA, and Manchestor, NH, named Brandon Perron its Strategic Operations Director. Mr. Perron provides management support and training for CIP's Criminal Investigation division. Mr. Perron was kind enough to grant me permission to extensively quote his article and website.
Documentation Standards, Part I
There are several things which I question in this case. And as it turns out, they're the same things, for the most part, that many others have been questioning as well. This includes interviewing techniques and documentation standards. Whether it's the medical field, criminal investigation, or the child advocacy field, we all have basically the same documentation standards which we're required to follow.
We are to document completely, accurately, and in a timely manner. Always. I do understand that, unlike FNE's, detectives may not always complete their documentation out in the field. That's understandable. However, they must complete their documentation as soon as possible and date/time it accurately.
There is to be no back dating of notes. Ever. An addendum may be added later, if something was forgotten. Then, it's done in a specific manner, with the current date and time, and the word addendum prior to our note, followed by our signature.
Source: Times Free Press
"(She) came into the conference room on her own and said she needed to tell me something else," said Suzie Thorne, a former forensic interviewer at the GreenHouse Children's Advocacy Center in Dalton, Ga.
"You didn't immediately take her back and put her in front of the camera and document what she was telling you, did you?" asked defense attorney Demosthenes Lorandos, who also is a clinical psychologist.
"No, I did not," Suzie Thorne responded.
Mr. Lorandos paced the courtroom floor for a few moments, then paused in front of Ms. Thorne.
"You didn't think to write it down?" he asked.
"(The) detective appeared to be writing it down," said Ms. Thorne.
But, the fact of the matter is, both the detective and Suzie Thorne testified that he did in fact take notes at the time of the interview. Well, correction, Ms. Thorne stated "It appeared" the detective was taking notes. Appeared?
They were supposedly in the same room together at the same time. Well, was he or wasn't he? Didn't she ask him? More importantly, why wasn't she taking her own notes? Why didn't she turn the video back on? Didn't they review the notes he had taken afterwords?
Ms. Thorne's statement, " ... those would be in the detective's notes, not hers," indicates to me that Ms. Thorne was very well aware that each professional writes their own notes and that they're kept separate.
Although CAC and law enforcement work together, that doesn't mean one does the work of the other. Each has their own responsibilities and their own job to do. And that includes each person writing their own notes. We FNE's work with law enforcement too yet we work separately.
Our detectives interview our patients before we do the exam. They're in a private room or cubicle while interviewing. We do not intrude or interfere. They do the same for us. The only time the detectives stay in our examining room is when we do suspect exams.
But, apparently, Ms. Thorne has her own way of doing things, which includes neglecting to document the child's additional statement, near verbatum, as required. And of course, also neglecting to turn the video back on.
The CAC had their review meeting on June 11, 2008. I really can't help but wonder how this lack of following protocol got past the review committee or how it may have been discussed. I'd sure love to see those minutes!
After each of our exams, our chart and photos are reviewed by the unit coordinator. Any and all mistakes are caught then and the nurse is notified. The nurse then has to come back in and add an addendum or correct any mistake with a line through it, along with her initials, the correction then written in, followed by the nurse's signature. Then there is the peer review meeting to randomly review charts again.
INVESTIGATIVE REPORT WRITING MANUAL
LAW ENFORCEMENT & SECURITY PERSONNEL
WHAT MAKES AN EXCELLENT REPORT
"An excellent report is one that is well-written, and is identified by six basic, necessary qualities. A well-written report is:
Officer’s Activity Report or Daily Log: The activity report or daily log is commonly used to provide an agency with statistical information regarding the activity on an officer’s shift. These reports include the calls the officers responded to, the disposition of the call, the amount of time spent on the call, and other activities within the shift such as car stops, number of citations written, etc. Some agencies obtain the same information via a computer terminal in the officer’s vehicle."
American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 24(3), 57-74 (2006)
“…There are no good reasons for not taping an investigatory interview of a child witness and many compelling reasons for doing so…”
KITTITAS COUNTY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE INVESTIGATION PROTOCOLS
Website Source: www.kittitas.wa.us/prosecutor/csaip.pdf
" Where deviations from these protocols occur. . . investigators can, and will be expected, to present their rationale for such deviation.”
"The purpose of these protocols is to provide a clear framework for an interagency response to child sexual assault investigations, which is thorough, objective, and complete.”
“The main objective of the Child Interviewer is to obtain legally sufficient statements from victims that will withstand scrutiny in a court of law . . . "
"The Child Interviewer will: (Partial list)
So, bearing this in mind, I'm trying to visualize this whole scenario in my head:
This interview supposedly lasted about two hours, was video taped, Detective Keith* was in the other room watching and taking notes, while Ms. Thorne kept repeatedly asking, anything else? Asking over and over and over again, ad nauseum. After being asked this sixteen times, the child still had not revealed anything earth shattering. Then, the child returns to her mother out in the waiting room.
I remember waiting in the waiting room many times for one of our foster children to come out. The door would open, and the child would fly right out, not wasting any time. Then we'd head out the door. They couldn't wait to leave if their parents weren't there visiting. If the parents were there, it was a different story, as they would cry and cling to them. But, if they weren't present, the child would grab my hand and out we'd go.
There was never any sudden remembrance or suddenly dashing the short fifteen feet or so back to the interview room, opening the door, and going in.
Now, of course, their facility is probably not as old as ours, so maybe their place is bigger and the distance from the interview room to the waiting room probably longer. Who knows? But, this kid made a point of returning to the interview room. During which time, the detective had enough time to leave the room he was in, and come into the interview room with Ms. Thorne, with pen and pad ready.
I'm going to assume that their interview room was like ours, in that it wasn't too big, so as not to intimidate children, I guess. Ours was rather small, warm and cozy, with stuffed toys and coloring books about.
So, the child goes back to the room, after returning to her mother, in order to tell them some absolutely horrendous thing that had occurred (that she had just happened to remember). Personally, if I had been the mother, I would have been the one to take my child by the hand, go knock on the door, and tell the interviewer that my child had just remembered something. But, I guess I'm not like this child's mother.
Ms. Thorne was labeling DVD's and Detective Keith was . . . well, I'm not quite sure what he was doing at the time. Anyway, apparently, these two veterans of law enforcement and child advocacy, didn't think to turn the video on again in order to visually capture what may have been the single, most critical piece of information in the entire investigation!
What is even more amazing is the fact that Detective Keith thought enough to get out his pen and pad to take notes but didn't think to remind Ms. Thorne to do the same. Something like: Hey, maybe you should turn on the machine again? Oh, and maybe you should take notes too while you're at it? might have been nice!
* Correction: Detective Keith was in the interview with Ms. Thorne. Ms. Thorne later testified she couldn't remember which detective was in the room with her.
Part II tomorrow
Readers, as I wrote in a previous post, I've been taking another look at the Tonya Craft trial. To that extent, I have researched extensively. Primarily, checking qualifications for hiring, and standards and protocols from various state agencies, as well as specific cases involving law enforcement testimony.
Specifically, I'm looking at the actions and testimony of Suzie Thorne, Stacy Long, Laura Evans and Detective Deal. Having finally read through the various trial reports of their testimony, I do have several questions of my own which I will explore throughout these posts.
To begin with, while reading through the court testimony reports, what really surprised me, was the incredible lack of expected qualifications Suzie Thorne had for the job she said she was "given." She stated she didn't apply for the position. Who in the real world doesn't have to apply for a job?
I've worked in my field for 35 years, and if I am interested in a particular job advertised, I have to go through the whole hiring process just like everyone else. I have to submit an application along with my CV and references.
Prior to being hired by the state, I also had to submit my college transcripts. I had to go through two interviews and submit writing samples. A background and criminal check was done. No one has ever just handed a job to me. I got to where I'm at today with the plain old blood, sweat, and tears of experience. Like most people should.
Who among us in the real world doesn't have to show our qualifications? Especially, when that job entails working with the most vulnerable of our society: abused children.
While I truly mean no offense to anyone, I have to admit that my first thought was, who in the world would "give" an important job like that to someone with no real education, training, or experience?
It's great if a person continues on with additional training (which they should) but why start that kind of position out with no training, other than a seminar, and no actual experience whatsoever? That makes no sense to me.
My second thought, of course, was to wonder to whom Ms. Thorne was related, or who was she friends with? I'm being serious. Did she have an aunt or uncle in the system? Was she friends with people there? Was she perhaps a volunteer before jumping to being a Forensic Interviewer?
Why would any good employer risk either further traumatizing young children, who truly may have been sexually abused, or permanently harming an innocent person's reputation, not to mention possibly eradicating their freedom?
And as to the truly guilty, who would want to risk having the convictions being overturned on appeal because their staff didn't follow accepted guidelines and protocols?
Due to, maybe, just maybe, the fact that the staff member never had the qualifications or adequate training to begin with?
That's not to say that people don't make mistakes. We all do. Even if we've worked in a field for many years, we can still make mistakes. We're only human after all. I would certainly never claim to have never made any mistakes.
But, it seems to me, that what happened in this particular case goes way beyond just making a few innocent mistakes. While I'm not really into jumping on the conspiracy theory bandwagon, and I strongly do not believe in publicly shredding people's reputations online, I can't help but question the competency on several levels.
To start with, I compared myself to Ms. Thorne, and asked myself if I would have been qualified for that position. Since I'm getting up there in age and retirement is getting closer by the minute, I'm looking back at over three decades of nursing experience, including both pediatric and adults, for one thing.
Over the years, I have also worked (between staff and agency) in Neonatal ICU, Pediatric & Adult ICU, and our local Burn Unit, and even worked for a short time, through agency, in a juvenile facility.
This was all before I ever went into forensics. It gave me a good, broad background upon which to rely. I've completed advanced FNE training and also took the pediatric FNE course a few years back, although I've continued to work with adults.
I've trained as a paralegal, a medico-legal death investigator, attended multiple conferences and seminars, researched child abuse extensively for years, audited pediatrician's offices for the government, and have been a foster parent; at one time, caring for two of our county's worst child sexual abuse cases of the time. They were siblings ages three and four and it was heart-breaking.
Now would I consider myself qualified for that position? No, I would not. Nor do I believe any prospective employer would find me qualified either. Why?
Because, for the purpose of these posts, I researched various CAC's across the country, as to their job requirements for the Forensic Interviewer position.
What I found was that a few CAC's (very few) required a minimum of a BS degree, with experience. However, the majority of CAC current job openings I saw required a minimum of a Master's degree and that the applicant must be a licensed social worker with anywhere from 2-8 years experience.
Here are some examples with links:
Company: Northern Arizona Healthcare
Location: Flagstaff, Arizona
" ... Qualifications:Education:*Master's Degree in Social Work or related field - required. Experience:*5 years experience in children's services, with at least three years experience working in the field of child maltreatment. Certificate/Licensure:*CPR certification within 3 month introductory period - required. *LMSW or LCSW at or within two years of hire - required for individuals with a Social Worker master's degree..."
|Location:||New York City, NY, 10021|
|Employee Type:||full time|
|Experience:||2 - 5 years|
Life-Changing Health Care - Social Workers Make It Possible
At NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, social workers step into an environment of hope and healing built on a history of clinical achievement. It's a place where talented professionals find the resources, and respect they need.
Join us and experience a culture of high esteem for our discipline. Social work rounds, internships, seminars and professional recognitions all contribute to an advanced practice environment.
We're changing lives and transforming our field. You can help make it possible:
Full time opportunities available in the following areas:
Child Advocacy / Forensic Interviewer - Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital
Philadelphia Children's Alliance
Masters degree in social work, psychology, or related field required.
Experience with the child welfare system strongly preferred ...
- Part time position available
- MUST BE A LICENSED SOCIAL WORKER IN MARYLAND (LCSW OR LGSW)
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Knowledge of child development
- Experience in the field of child sexual abuse
- Successful completion of Finding Words and BCAC’s forensic interview training
- Successful completion of training in trauma and child development
- Bilingual English/Spanish (helpful but not necessary)
Child Forensic Interview Specialist/Social Worker
Family Services is seeking applicants for a Child Forensic Interview Specialist/Social Worker for the new Willow Tree Child Advocacy Center in Green Bay, responsible for evaluation and direct services to children suspected of having been abused. Must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work or related field (Master’s Degree preferred), plus two years of field experience working with children and families who have experienced violence or abuse. Must also possess a minimum basic level certification in a recognized forensic interview protocol (i.e. Step Wise, Child First, and/or Cognitive Graphing).
As you can see, from the above examples, while many CAC agencies in this country require a minimum of a BS degree, most require a Masters. So, I have to question again just how is it that Ms. Thorne just happened to be "given" the job of Forensic Interviewer without meeting even the most basic educational/experience requirements?
Article: Setting Course: The Case For Credentialing of Forensic Interviewers
Intermediate forensic interviewing credential.
"In addition to the completion of a state or nationally recognized forensic interviewing course, a forensic interviewer applying for this credential must complete an additional 40 hours of advanced course work on forensic interviewing, have conducted at least 25 forensic interviews, and participated in at least one peer review process in which one or more of the applicant’s interviews were critiqued."
"The forensic interviewer must again sign an acknowledgment of ethical guidelines pertaining to this work and their agreement to abide by these guidelines. Finally, the interviewer must take and complete a nationally accepted examination documenting the interviewer has acquired basic knowledge relevant to forensic interviewing."
Advanced forensic interviewing credential.
"In addition to the basic forensic interview training, an applicant for this credential must have completed a minimum of 80 hours of advanced course work on forensic interviewing, must have conducted at least 100 forensic interviews and participate in a quarterly peer review process.The
forensic interviewer must again sign the acknowledgment pertaining to ethical standards."
Diplomate in forensic interviewing.
"In addition to the completion of basic forensic interview training, an applicant for Diplomate status must have completed a minimum of 160 hours of advanced training on forensic
interviewing. The applicant must have conducted a minimum of 1,000 forensic interviews.The applicant must document continued participation in a quarterly peer review process.The
forensic interviewer must continue to acknowledge an understanding of and adherence to ethical guidelines. Finally, and most importantly, the applicant must submit three transcripts or videotapes of forensic interviews conducted in at least three different years, for blind review by an expert panel."
I don't recall reading anywhere among the news reports that Ms. Thorne has obtained any further official training beyond the basic course. If I have somehow missed it, please correct me.
" In cases of child sexual abuse, the competence of forensic interviewers may be more important than the competence of any other member of the multi-disciplinary team."
Next Post: Detective Deal
This article describes a forensic evaluation protocol, designed at the National Children's Advocacy Center (NCAC). The means by which the NCAC forensic evaluation protocol addresses the challenges and controversies inherent in the field of sexual abuse allegation assessment are discussed. Results of a two-year study are reported, in which efficacy of the protocol is demonstrated in three areas: (1) in gathering facts to validate true abuse, thus assisting the child protective and legal systems in case decision making, (2) in determining when initial concerning statements of children are actually not due to sexual abuse, but to other events or circumstances, and (3) in uncovering false allegations and vindicating the falsely accused. A multi-site research project currently underway that involves more than 40 Children's Advocacy Centers across the United States, which will further test the efficacy of the model and further refine practice, is described. The multi-site project will also include data on the evalua-tors' own abuse history and whether or not this affects evaluation outcomes.
|Keywords: Assessment; extended assessment; clinical evaluation; forensic evaluation; interviewing; psychosocial assessment; abuse investigation; assessing abuse allegations|
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Certified Forensics Nurse Examiner and Independent Consultant