A Chicago police sergeant was relieved of his duties after being charged with one count each of predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a 9-year-old girl. The alleged victim is the daughter of the sergeant’s co-worker, and defense attorneys claim that the nature of the relationship between the accused and the alleged victim’s mother will make clear why allegations were made.
False Allegations of Child Sex Abuse
The defendant’s attorneys have not yet elaborated on the nature of their client’s relationship with the victim’s mother. We can assume, however, that the defense will attempt to prove that she is, in some way, a jilted lover – that the two either had a prior romantic relationship that the defendant ended, or that he previously rebuffed her advances – or a disgruntled employee, and is retaliating with false allegations of sexual abuse.
It may seem impossible that anyone would make false allegations of sexual assault as retaliation. Punishments for a sexual assault conviction are serious, involving lengthy prison sentences and sex offender registration requirements. Even the charges themselves, whether they are ultimately dropped or if the case ends in acquittal, carry a stigma that can forever damage the accused’s professional and personal reputation. Somebody would have to carry a huge grudge to falsely accuse another person of sexual assault.
Unfortunately, false allegations of sexual assault are not uncommon. They arise far too frequently in hotly contested child custody cases, as a way to ensure that custody is not awarded to the father. If the child is young, she is susceptible to being coached or having false memories of abuse planted. They will often repeat the false story because they want to please the mother (or whichever party is coaching them).
In a case of false allegations, there are two victims – the accused, and the child who is put in the middle. In these cases, the defense attorney must walk a fine line between zealously defending his client and not causing further harm to the child. In this particular case, there are two children who may have been coached – the alleged victim and her brother, who was the first to witness the alleged abuse and notify his mother.
In cases such as these, where there appears to be some type of bad blood between the accused and the child victim’s parent, it is imperative for the defense attorney to not only have a clear understanding of the relationship between the two adults, but to also explore the mother’s background to determine whether there is a pattern of false allegations of any kind against former lovers or co-workers.
An independent evaluation of the alleged victim by a child psychologist trained in treating not only victims of child sexual abuse, but also those who have been coached to make false allegations, is also vital, especially if the statement the alleged victim made to the authorities was done so in the presence of her mother. A review of the victim’s statement to police, along with a viewing of any tape recording made of the interview, is also necessary, in order to see if the mother was present and coached the child in any way.