8am to 9pm last Friday Reassessing the Past, Present, and Future Role of Children and Their Participation in American Law. Hamline University 4/1/06
From a legal perspective the most under-protected persons in America are sexually abused children.
One study indicated that 11% of judges and 51% of prosecuting attorneys admitted that they had deliberately confused the child (witness) during the proceedings.
What this means in practice, is that the nine-year old girl sitting on the stand in the courtroom is being bullied by intense and deliberately confusing cross-examination about her abuse.
Everyone at the sysmposium agreed that children are not mentally capable of undergoing adult type cross examination, but it is clear that this still happens in many cases.
The outcome of child sex abuse trials is generally negative for the child, and often the abused victim ends up back in the homes with no negative consequences to the abuser.
Another common outcome, is that prior charges (both alleged and substantiated) are often not allowed as evidence against the perpetrator. This results in juries not knowing about extensive sex abuse histories of the abuser and ruling as if this were a single event instead of many years of child sex abuse.
Many County workers know that our criminal legal system doesn’t work for children and therefore choose not to bring suit against the child sexual predators.
This has been my experience as a Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem. Today for instance, I am preparing for my fourth trial in about ten years with a mom that has had five children taken from her on three different occasions.
The sex abuse was documented, and the seven-year old girl was kicked so hard by her abuser that she went into convulsions (and why the children were finally removed from the home after repeated police calls to the residence). The impact these horrific acts have had on this poor girl are impossible to overstate.
The current report shows the same things being done to her sixth and seventh children that were done to her first five; sexual abuse, violence, and drugs in their system (at three-years old).
The man who committed the acts ten years ago is still in the home and has never been brought to trial on any of the original accusations. It boggles the mind to think that this fellow has had NO negative consequences for his behaviors. One must wonder how many children he has impacted over his lifetime.
If you have stories about this topic, please send them to me.
Let’s all work to bring attention to this painful failure of our legal system.