“And last, the rending pain of re-enactment
Of all that you have done, and been; the shame
Of motives late revealed, and the awareness
Of things ill done and done to others’ harm
Which once you took for exercise of virtue.
Then fools’ approval stings, and honor stains…”
It’s Christmas time and I miss my brother.
My life has been forever changed because of what happened to my brother Rick. The way I see everything in the world is utterly and completely altered, nothing is unaffected. It never leaves me. I remember hearing his voice on the phone crying after he was beaten and I see his bloody face over and over again. False allegations of child molestation took his life and the liar continues on. No prayer I pray can reconcile that while I’m flesh and blood.
I grieve for my brother and all the others with family members in similar circumstances. We live in a world where ugly allegations can be made and no proof has to be given to show it actually occurred. How do you prove a negative anyway?
I am motivated to try and protect others from what happened to my brother. His step-daughter accused him of having sex intercourse with her every week, two and three times a week over a period of two years. It always happened between 6 a.m. and 6: 15 a.m. with everyone in the house. Medical records show the claim to be an utter fabrication, the allegation was enough to kill him though.
If you or a loved one is accused of such a thing it’s important to learn the law and learn it quickly. You can’t leave it up to an attorney to take over and make it right. Nothing will make it right, but perhaps the following will minimize the damage.
Pay attention to statements made by the alleged victim that couldn’t be possible. Examples of logistical improbabilities are statements such as the perpetrator had anal sex with the young child for the first time and no lubricants were used but that it did not hurt; that prolonged sexual abuse occurred a few feet away from non-abusing, noncomplicit adults with an open door between them, or the abuse occurred in the daylight in a fairly public place. Inconsistencies in the child’s allegations. The degree to which the child’s allegations are internally consistent and consistent across time is also important to assess in the forensic context. It is reasonable to hypothesize that true allegations are consistent. If a child contradicts him or herself within an interview, then the interviewer should note this and attempt to resolve the inconsistency (i.e., discover which account the child wants to commit to) as well as attempt to have an understanding of why the child’s account is inconsistent in this telling (e.g., perhaps the child did not understand the question; perhaps the child’s memory is now clearer). In addition, a forensic assessment of the child’s allegations should attempt to determine how consistent the allegations are across tellings, and possible reasons for these inconsistencies.
This is sometimes called a “blossoming allegation”—in each telling there is more detail, despite the fact that the previous narrative was thought to be complete. Thus, it is critical that in the forensic evaluation of the allegations the degree and kinds of inconsistencies, if any, are documented. Ask the authorities to look into what is called “stake analysis.” This issue involves anyone who appears to have a stake in the allegations or in a guilty or not guilty verdict in the trial that will almost assured. By stake we mean something like a hidden agenda. If the wife is having an affair and wants the husband gone and full custody of the children. Sometimes, as in the case with my brother, there are more complex motivations surrounding the allegation. Is there an adult who has contact with the child who has a vendetta against the accused? Is there an acrimonious divorce in which one parent seems to detest the other parent? Is there someone (an aunt) who wants custody of the children? Is there someone who will financially profit from an outcome of the trial? Has this individual had access to the child where they might have employed suggestive questioning to alter the child’s information processing and thus help create a potentially false allegation? Again, in the forensic evaluation, the evaluator should determine if there are parties who may have agendas regarding the abuse allegations. If there are further analysis is necessary to determine if they might have had an influence on the child. Forensic interviews of the child should also investigate this possibility.
For more information about this please read Childrens’ Allegations of Sexual Abuse: A Model for Forensic Assessment by William O’Donohue, Ph.D., Lorraine Benuto, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Reno, and Matthew Fanetti, Ph.D. of Missouri State University.