When there is a report or allegation of the possible abuse or molestation of a child, there may be more than one government agency involved with the investigation of the allegations. Here is a list of government agencies that may be involved with the investigation:
Police / Sheriff’s Office. Like other allegations or reports of crimes, the local police / sheriff’s office may be involved with the investigation. Many local police departments and sheriff’s offices have special divisions set up to investigate abuse, sex, and / or crimes committed against children. Through a criminal investigation, the police / sheriff’s office can take statements, issue warrants, and issue subpoenas when charges are filed. If there is probable cause established, arrest warrants can be issued. At this point in time, the State Attorney will typically take the lead on the criminal case.
State Attorney / Prosecutor. There is typically a close working relationship between the State Attorney / Prosecutor and the local police / sheriff’s office. Efforts are coordinated to some extent in the collection of evidence and statements to help establish the elements of the criminal case against the alleged perpetrator / Defendant.
Department of Children and Families / Social Services. In addition to law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office, the allegations may be investigated by the Department of Children and Families and Social Services. This is especially true when the allegations are against a Defendant who has frequent contact with the child. In addition, there are laws, regulations, and code provisions that set forth the standards for the investigation and reporting of crimes involving the abuse and / or molestation of children.
Child Protection Team. In some States, there is a specialized unit or agency that is charged with the medical and psychological evaluation of children who have been victims of abuse or molestation. The information obtained by the Child Protection Team can help establish or confirm the allegations of abuse or neglect by the performance of thorough evaluations and interviews.
Public School. If a child is molested or otherwise abused at a public school or by an employee or volunteer of the school, the administration of the school may also be involved with the investigation to some extent. Typically, the school will refrain from taking the lead in an investigation that involves the police, prosecutor, or other government agencies.
A child, who has been victimized, abused, or molested, has the right to retain a private attorney as well. A Child Injury Lawyer can provide advice, guidance, and legal representation for the injured child. A Child Injury Lawyer can assist the family with the investigation and also engage additional resources like a private investigator to further help obtain information and potential evidence on a case. It is important that the child and family cooperate with government and law enforcement officials so that the criminal case is properly investigated and developed. While a civil case is much different than a criminal case, the evidence and information obtained through the criminal investigation can often times be used in the civil case.
Like other types of injury cases, there are four basic elements of a child abuse or molestation civil case: 1. Duty; 2. Breach of Duty; 3. Causation; and 4. Damages. While some incidents are unforeseeable, many incidents involving the molestation or abuse of a child could have been prevented with better supervision and adherence to the policies and procedures of the facility and the State laws and regulations in place.
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.