The case of the week began when my client, “Jessica”, explained to me that her husband, Gary, had sexually molested and abused their two girls.
Charges of sexual abuse toward children obviously need to be taken very seriously. So to help determine the truth, I asked Jessica if I could interview the girls along with another of my investigators. (We always use two investigators: For security, and to corroborate the evidence that is gleaned.)
The art of interview and interrogation is an investigative tool that takes at least a decade of experience and countless interviews of a variety of usual suspects to master. Children, however, present a different mindset. They can be easily manipulated and, unfortunately, they tend to want to please the person interviewing them. So interviewer(s) have to have a lot of skill remaining objective, and not leading or suggesting scenarios the child may run with.
The girls (ages five and seven) seemed puzzled at our questions. The investigator has to keep in mind that neither child has technically reached the age of reason. After only 35 minutes, it was an easy call to determine the girls had never been abused. This entire molestation story was concocted to help the mother (my client) get sole custody of the girls with no visitation for the father, even supervised visitation.
Charges of sexual abuse are somewhat common in disillusionment of marriage cases. Sometimes, there is no indication or evidence of any such behavior happening (on either side) until one of the spouses files for divorce. The strategy then becomes to make every conceivable effort to obtain custody of the children.
I sat Jessica down to have a serious heart-to-heart conversation. I told her about one of my more famous cases, McMartin Preschool case. My agency was retained by a local judge who had two grandchildren attending the school. I was the first private investigator on the case and the only one who thought the whole matter was a fairy-tale.
Anyone reading this blog who observed the interviews and examination of the children as I did would come to the same conclusion. These were false allegations against the teachers at the school which were exacerbated by jealous interviews by the Children’s Institute International (a Los Angeles abuse therapy clinic run by Kee MacFarland). Most of associates at the Children’s Institute were outrageous in that they were highly suggestive to the children, and even invited the children to speculate about a variety of pretend events.
The McMartin Preschool trial was one of the most expensive in the history of the United States. At the end of the day, absolutely no one was found guilty. The school’s license was even reinstated. Many lives of the school’s owners and teachers were ruined forever because of the scurrilous behavior of the incompetent interviewers.
During the trial in July of 1984, through the press, I actually challenged anyone in the private or public sector to prove the McMartin family or teachers did anything wrong. We had no takers. One of the examples I gave to the media of how children can be manipulated was speaking with a nine years old who was abused by his father. This child was easily lead during the interview process. At one point, I was so convinced he would say anything, I showed him a picture of Santa Claus. I postured the question this way, “Could this man have possibly been one of the men who touched you on your private parts?” A resounding “yes” was his answer. Enough said.
If your family is ever faced with this dilemma, please seek out a criminal attorney who has a skilled private investigator who has worked these types of cases. They need to be pursued quickly and aggressively.
Jessica initially stuck to her story until I told her that I would advise her attorney of my findings. Also, if subpoenaed by the father’s attorney, I would gladly give my expert testimony in open court. She was also told that such behavior is criminal and she could be prosecuted. She finally relented and eventually agreed to 50/50 shared custody with Gary.
To this day, Gary has no idea we became a gladiator for him and his children. It was simply the right thing to do.
Private investigators are not matchmakers.