The Henry County Police Department investigated our client on allegations that he had molested his 3-year-old daughter. The accusation stemmed from an incident at the daughter’s day care center where an employee started questioning the girl after she was seen making a “humping” motion during nap time. The day care worker claimed that in response to questioning, the girl stated that her dad “put his private in her private.”
We immediately started interviewing witnesses and spoke with several other people who had cared for and babysat the girl. They told us that she routinely rocked in her bed when she went to sleep and that even others at the day care were aware of this. Every witness we spoke with confirmed that the girl never showed any signs of being abused by her father, or by anyone else for that matter. Our client passed a polygraph exam and a psychosexual evaluation showed that he had no signs of pedophilia and no sexual interest in children.
The problem with the case was that the day care worker was adamant that the girl told her she was molested by her father. Our theory was that the worker saw the strange humping motion and convinced herself that something must have happened to this girl. She then questioned her using leading and suggestive questions which would increase the likelihood that the child would make a false allegation. When a child is questioned under these circumstances, a false report of sexual abuse can occur as a result of “Interviewer Bias”. In this situation, the person questioning the child believes that the child has been molested, so rather than probing the child to determine if something happened, the person will ask several yes/no questions in order to “confirm” that their belief is correct. This is dangerous and is one of the leading causes of false allegations in young children. Unfortunately, most day care workers are not well-trained on how to question children regarding alleged abuse and, as a result, many false allegations arise from circumstances just like those in this case.
Fortunately for our client, once the child was questioned by a trained forensic interviewer, who was unbiased and used open-ended questions, the child did not make any disclosure of sexual abuse. As a result, the police dismissed the case against our client and we were able to keep him from ever getting arrested.