Shawn Wygant, Demosthenes Lorandos, Tonya Craft & Nancy Aldridge
Perhaps one of the most difficult subjects lawyers, judges and experts face, in order to properly diagnose (or rule out) child sexual abuse, two distinct sets of skills and knowledge are required: those for the physical examination (covered in Chapter 7 Child Sexual Abuse Examination) and those for the forensic interview – the topic of this chapter. Trying both emotionally and professionally, child sex abuse is so challenging to properly diagnose for a variety of reasons, including issues with the way the victim was interviewed, as well as the victim’s recall, reluctance and ability to communicate.
To help attorneys and judges navigate this quagmire, this Child Sexual Abuse Interviews chapter, provides detailed guidance from the foremost authorities, and particular topics include:
The prevalence of child sexual abuse
Guidance for conducting the interview, including blind interviewing, rapport building, hypothesis testing and asking open-ended questions
Guidance for conducting the cognitive interview
Guidance for avoiding unsupported techniques, including guided imagery, biased, leading and/or repeated questioning, treating denials as signs of abuse and multiple interviews
Discussion of Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome (CSAAS), its history and its lack of scientific validity and reliability
History of child sexual abuse interviewing techniques & guidelines, including a discussion of lessons learned
Evidentiary issues with child sexual abuse allegations, including the need for expert testimony, use of interview responses and hearsay
Guidance for avoiding and managing clinical judgment errors, bias, suggestive interviewing techniques, peer contamination and use of nonverbal props
In addition to comprehensive guidance on the requirements of a forensic interview, this chapter also provides a number of case digests that illustrate: (1) properly performed child sexual abuse interviews; (2) improperly performed interviews and the difficulty faced in trying to rectify their effect; and (3) examples of shockingly poor interviews and evidentiary collection and the horrible consequences that resulted therefrom.
Offering a thorough review of the literature in this field, as well as citations to caselaw from a variety of jurisdictions, the Child Sexual Abuse Interviews chapter is an invaluable resource for lawyers, judges and experts navigating cases involving child sexual abuse suspicions, accusations, allegations or charges.
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