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April 9, 2009

Child abuse cases focus of training

Child abuse cases can be difficult to solve.

The reason? “Usually there’s little or no evidence,” said Dave Buckley, instructor with John E. Reid and Associates, Inc. and author of “How to Identify, Interview and Interrogate Child Abuse Offenders.”

Even when there may be physical evidence such as in the case of physical abuse, Buckley noted there often isn’t any evidence as to who did the abusing. With sexual abuse, he said there is “almost no evidence at all,” not even physical evidence.

Buckley also said the victims of child abuse often aren’t able to provide much evidence either.

“Many of the children are unable to communicate,” he said, noting that unfortunately there are many toddlers and infants that are victims of abuse.

But even those victims who are verbal are “not the most credible witnesses,” Buckley said, noting that their stories may be inconsistent or incomplete.

“Because they’ve been so manipulated and are afraid to tell the whole truth,” he said.

Therefore the key to solving and prosecuting child abuse cases is often extracting a confession from the abuser, Buckley said.

“If you don’t have a confession from the offender,” he said, “it does make it very difficult to solve the case.”

“If we can get the offender to tell the truth, it goes a long way to protecting the child,” he said, noting that not only does a confession help in prosecuting the case and hopefully ending the abuse, but it also helps keep children “from having to testify, which is only additional trauma for them.”

Since obtaining a confession from the offender is so crucial to resolving child abuse cases, Buckley was brought in last week to present a three-day child abuse investigation seminar for area law enforcement officers.

The focus of the seminar, Buckley said, is the “Reid technique” of investigation which “separate(s) the interview from the interrogation.”

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