Somebody contacts the Sheriff’s Office or the police. This is often an adult in a position of authority in relation to the child, such as a parent, relative or teacher. But sometimes a child contacts the police him or herself. Sometimes the child contacts the police many years after the alleged molestation occurred, claiming that he or she didn’t understand the nature of the touch at the time it happened. In San Mateo County, the Sheriff’s Office dedicates a sergeant and detective to oversee online sexual predators for a few hours a week.
The police (and sometimes specially-trained detectives or child psychologists) interview the child to establish his or her version of the story. Typically, the interview is audio or videotaped. It is not uncommon for an interview to use leading questions that propel the child to tell a false version of events.
If the molestation allegedly occurred recently, a medical examination of the child and a forensic examination of the child’s clothes and location may be conducted. In San Mateo County, suspected victims of child molestation are taken to The Keller Center for Family Violence Intervention in the San Mateo Medical Center to be examined. In 2009, 216 children were brought to the center for testing. Some of the evidence the police or sheriff are looking for is microscopic tearing or your DNA. The goal is to provide physical evidence as well as testimony regarding how tears or other physical evidence prove molestation.
Frequently in a child molestation case, the police ask the person who is doing the accusing to make a “pretext call” to you, which they record and guide, in order to secure a confession or implied admission. They may also try to find other minors who will accuse you.
The authorities go on to either bring you in for questioning (often without reading you your Miranda rights) and try to get you to confess or arrest you. If the latter, you must be read your rights, which include your right to an attorney. It is much better to contact an attorney who is experienced in handling child molestation cases than to simply talk to the police in order to get it over with or to convince them that you are innocent and the child is lying. Similarly, you should not submit to a polygraph without consulting an attorney. These tests are voluntary, but the goal is to find subtle inconsistencies or outright lies to build a case against you.
Whether there was an absence of intent, accidental touching, or third party coaching, the courts or even the prosecution dismiss many child molestation cases. We want to know your side of the story and help you move on with your life. Call our San Francisco office at (415) 946-4020 for a confidential consultation.