FALSE ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE
Sometimes allegations of abuse are true. When they are not, disproving false allegations of child abuse is one of the most difficult issues to overcome. Disproving becomes the method of how to overcome false child abuse allegations. This is why it is critical to act fast and have a strategy. Having an attorney represent and advise you during this process is generally recommended.
False Allegations of Physical Abuse
There are a number of ways to handle any false allegations of abuse you may be facing.
One way is to bring the child to their pediatrician for a general exam. Reporting to the pediatrician that you are facing false allegations of child abuse. This is a Clean Bill of Health approach. Better: Bring another responsible adult with you (someone who could submit a signed affidavit). Request a letter from the pediatrician stating something as simple as, “Mr./Mrs. Smith brought Susie for a check-up today. I am aware there have been allegations of child abuse. She has no injury or illness consistent with physical abuse.”
Take photos of the child which are dated and e-mail them to your attorney (this dates them, too)
False Allegations of Sexual Abuse
These are one of the worst false allegations of child abuse to confront, because it takes a vast effort and investigation to “make sure” nothing happened.
These allegations also tend to bring in multiple agencies, including law enforcement, social services, a forensic interview team from a hospital or mental health agency, and sometimes the Emergency Room. Having a forensic psychologist as a consultant to your lawyer can be advantageous in resolving this situation. The following story illustrates why:
Several years ago I was hired by a parent's attorney in which the parents were separated. They had a toddler at the time. One parent made allegations of sexual abuse because of some statements the child made about genitals and such. The accused parent was cleared criminally, but was not by social services. By the time the came to me there was ZERO contact with the child n in over a year. Six months later, we were able to reverse the social services findings through an appeals hearing, but then had to go to family court. The Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) took the testimony of the child’s therapist over mine and submitted a report to the Judge contradicting my testimony and findings. [after an exhaustive investigation I was sure the father had done nothing]. At a much later date I finally learned from the court appointed custody evaluator that the matter had been corrected and the parent alleged of abuse ended up with primary custody of the child. The evaluator and I basically agreed about how the situation was grossly misunderstood. I was also told that the GAL in that case withheld information. As you can imagine, when things go poorly in court, which they do for everyone involved at some point in time, its great to get feedback even after the fact that your professional opinions were accurate.
The moral to the story: Time Matters. With more time and getting involved earlier in the game, the social services investigation could have easily been defeated, the false allegations of abuse could have been defeated, and the outcome could have been much different. With all the time that went by, everyone (inappropriately) made up their minds that the parent was an abuser. There is no logical reason for this, but it shows how matters can take a very bad turn when they are allowed to run on endlessly.
What To Do/ What May Occur:
Get the best attorney you can afford.
The next step involves preparing for the interviews by all the investigating parties. Have the child evaluated by a neutral forensic psychologist who specializes in assessing sexual abuse allegations. Your attorney will probably have to request this formally in court.
You may need to voluntarily submit to a psycho-sexual evaluation to determine any proclivity towards sexual abuse.
If nothing really happened and the evaluations support that conclusion, then the investigation can end here.
What Not To Do:
Do not submit to a polygraph test; it has been shown to be scientifically unreliable.
Do not submit to a plethysmograph test; most courts have considered it to be scientifically unreliable.
Do not violate any temporary restraining orders or visitation orders.
False Allegations of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a serious problem, and if it is happening treatment for both the perpetrator and victim may be recommended. It is also a complex issue in divorce in which occurrences of domestic violence are higher than average. Documentation & Witnesses are very important for these types of false allegations. You need to keep records of your location, with whom you were spending time, etc. This will easily prove that you were not with your ex-spouse and did not harm her/him. Always keep your credit card receipts-they may be very useful here.
Under this umbrella also falls “emotional abuse”. This is one of the hardest "false" allegations to prove because it leaves no visible mark. It is no less serious.
In this day and age, electronic communication also may serve to track emotional abuse. If you have written multitudes of e-mails using curse words, threats, etc. then these statement can constitute very solid data supporting a concern of emotional abuse. The opposite effect can be achieved if you have, instead, shown patience, been ready to compromise and made attempts to have cordial communication.
Expecting False Allegations Of Any Kind
Sometimes the best offense is….A strong DEFENSE. If you’re expecting a false allegation of child abuse, it may be helpful to voice your concern especially to a professional from the court involved with your case, a child protection agency, or with the local police, etc.