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Big Win for Client in Child Sexual Abuse Case

No one likes child sexual abuse.  Child sexual abuse is awful.  We often represent sexual abuse victims, and we often represent the accused in criminal court.  Representing victims and representing the accused gives you perspective related to child sex cases.
 
What I want from these cases is fairness.  And for years I have made a study as to the errors made by police and others in child sexual abuse investigations, examinations and interviews.  So, whether I am suing for a sexual abuse victim, or defending someone accused of sexual abuse of a child, I always try to study the investigation and the child's development as they relate to the case.
 
Our Client here was accused of sexually abusing her young child.  I didn't believe it.  There are too many factors for me to explain why I didn't believe it here, but it smelled funny.
 
Before our client was charged we spoke to the police and the prosecutor.  The prosecutor agreed not to prosecute.  That was job one and was a big win.
 
Then we appealed the substantiation decisions of abuse by DHHS.  We had a testimonial hearing, and the Administrative Hearing Officer found that we were correct, that there was no credible evidence of sexual abuse of the child.  This was after I cross-examined medical professionals from Spurwink and DHHS, and took testimony from our own witnesses.
 
First off, credit goes to the Hearing Officer who had the guts and intellect to recommend reversal of an ugly child sexual abuse case.  He was correct.  Second, this is what can happen when you keep working in the trenches in these cases.  This was the right thing to do.  As we revealed in cross-examination of their witnesses, the forensic interview process was flawed, and the parents on the opposing side had motivations to suggest abuse to the alleged victim.  In this case, the interview was so flawed that the DHHS caseworker agreed with me that the police officer lead the child in the interview, was suggestive to the child, and, in general, that he fouled things up. 
 
I understand that children are abused.  When they are, it is horrible and life-changing. 
 
It is also horrible and life-changing when you are falsely accused based on bad interviewing techniques, suggestiveness and interviewer bias.
 
We are not out of the woods on this one, but this was a great victory for our client.
 
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Timothy E. Zerillo has been included in every edition of New England
Super Lawyers since 2010, for his Super Lawyers page click here.

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