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False Charges Of Sexual Assault On A Child – Common In Colorado Domestic Cases Part I of II

By H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Sex Crimes Criminal Defense LawyerEmail the Author at hmsteinberg@hotmail.com

False Charges Of Sexual Assault On A ChildFalse Charges Of Sexual Assault On A Child – Common In Colorado Domestic Cases Part I of II – False charges of child sexual abuse in Colorado can completely derail your life. The case may begin for the suspect with an early morning SWAT team arriving unannounced – an arrest – the reading of Miranda rights, handcuffing in front of family, friends and neighbors and then transport to a crowded county jail.

In Colorado divorce cases, accusations of child abuse can come up in many ways. Research demonstrates that nearly 95% of the accusers in these situations are women. The reason – an accusation of child abuse is the near perfect weapon in a divorce action in Colorado.

The accusation has the effect of removing the accused husband completely out of the soon to be ex-wife AND the children’s lives – gives her complete custodial control, and can destroy the man’s life, and any semblance of a normal relationship between him and his children at least in the short run.

This kind of accusation is not only deliberate – made by women obsessed with hurting their husbands as much as possible – it is premeditated and – frankly – effective based on the knee jerk and near hysterical reaction that follows the accusation.

High Bail Means Being Held In Custody Awaiting Trial

Because the charge of Sexual Assault on A Child can bring a life sentence in Colorado – bail is often set very high resulting in the inability of the defendant to post that bail and therefore awaiting their day in court and their only opportunity to defend the case.

The intensity of the prosecution of these cases places two competing forces at issue – protecting children’s and adults’ rights at the same time with the same due process protections.

The Intensity of The Prosecution Of Sexual Assault On Children Cases Can Mean Unfair Impacts On The Accused

The public’s and therefore the jury’s natural response in these cases is to jump to the protection of the defenseless child and “the brave mother.” Before there is a trial or a verdict either way – a form of “immediate punishment’ takes place. The defendant is often condemned by family and friends alike and by those in the court of public opinion. Even if the accused is successful at trial – his loss of reputation may never be regained, and his loss of freedom, loss of income, and loss of trust in the American judicial system – are all casualties of the process.

False Allegations Arising Out Of The Acrimonious Divorce And Child Protective Services (CPS)

False accusations of sexual assault against the accused – usually the father of the children – as noted above – often arise as part of an acrimonious divorce. Few legal safeguards are in place that guard against false allegations.

Even before a man knows he has been accused, the children have been seen by forensic and other interviewers from CPS (child protective services). These social workers see themselves as ‘validators’ of the accusation.” At the point that they are alerted to the accusation – they swoop in and the investigation moves very rapidly. Within hours of the allegation, a father’s contact with his children is cut off completely.

Social workers and clinicians who respond to the allegations have tremendous power over the family. They often end up destroying the families they are trying – in a misguided attempt at ties – to save. These first “investigators” called in – (Colorado Child Protective Services Workers) – are actually trained “child advocates” who begin the inquiry by accepting whole – the word of their “clients” the mothers and children who are usually behind the allegations. Their mandate, by definition, is to err against making a possible mistake that could lead to harm to a child.

The men – who are most often non-custodial parents and who love their children no less than the accusing mother of those same children – are no longer ‘innocent until proven guilty’ – in these cases there seems to be what can only be termed an unwritten ‘presumption of guilt.’ That presumption carries right through to trial. As a DA and as a defense lawyer –

I have watched the faces of jurors as they hear the charges read for the first time. It is very difficult for a jury to begin cloak the accused with the presumption of innocence that is demanded by the Constitution when they begin with the assumption that there must be something to the case if this kind of charge has been brought against this defendant.

The “Believe the Child” Idea Refuted

In a 1983 article in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect, a theory was widely publicized that children never fabricate the kinds of accusations that are brought in these case. The theme has since been the source of a presumption of trustworthiness by the alleged victims in these case. However the research (see Part II ) LINK by child psychiatrists and other expert witnesses in child abuse cases, attack this belief as having no data to support it.

The “investigative” work of the biased Child Protective Services worker is often accepted unquestioningly by overburdened police officers who, like most of the public, jump on the “bandwagon of horror” at the thought that any man would sexually abuse the children under his care. This syndrome has a name – the SAID Syndrome, or Sexual Allegations in Divorce Syndrome.

An investigator is supposed to remain neutral objectively determine whether a crime was committed. Research shows that in 97% of the cases where the police conduct an actual investigation into allegations of child abuse, they are not able to substantiate the allegations, and no criminal charges are filed.

The men who are falsely accused gather little comfort in that statistic – because the investigation may take months to conclude and they lose contact with their children while the investigation proceeds. Armed with nothing more than an allegation, and without a court order or a hearing- before a Colorado Judge, CPS can:

  • Force the parents and children into therapy for an unlimited amount of time,
  • Compel an accused man to engage in therapy or other forms of classes before being allowed contact with his children,
  • Deny a father access to his children–even if he has a court order allowing such access.
    (CPS has – at least for a limited amount of time – an enormous amount of power over the family unit.)

As part of their “investigation,” CPS will frequently send a child for evaluation to an outside mental health professional selected from a court-approved list. While a skilled therapist should be able to weed out obviously false charges, by and large, the therapists to whom CPS refers children are all too willing to confirm what may actually be false reports.

The Impact Of Mandated Reporters

In some cases, mandatory reporters are simply afraid to “rule out” abuse. To be eligible for Federal funding under the Mondale Act, every state has passed laws requiring certain people (doctors, therapists, teachers, etc.) to report suspected abuse to the proper authority. In Colorado  “mandated reporters” are subject to fines or jail for not reporting. Everyone’s on the defensive. 

In other cases, a false report of abuse is quickly confirmed because the therapist, like the referring CPS worker, is “a validator” who has already made a decision before hearing what all the parties–including the father–have to say.

Validators also tend to rely heavily on “behavioral and emotional indicators of abuse,” which include:

  • acting out,
  • bed-wetting,
  • changing attitudes about certain foods,
  • nightmares,
  • whining,
  • temper tantrums,
  • thumb-sucking,
  • or behavior that is overly compliant or overly fearful.

These supposed “indicators” of abuse are so common, they could apply to just about anyone. They are normal and occur as a natural part of childhood. Many of the abuse “indicators” can also be attributed to stress and anxiety–exactly what would be experienced by a child whose parents are in a bitter divorce.

The Impact Of Hysteria

Hysteria has been described as “a wild outbreak of feelings that greatly exaggerate what is real.”

Child protective agencies, police investigators, district attorneys and other prosecutors and the courts themselves join the general population in convicting the innocent – the direct result of the hysteria. It is true that innocent people are found guilty of the sexual abuse of a child every year in the courts of Colorado – when in fact no such sexual abuse ever took place.

How can that happen? When you place poorly investigated cases, bias and public hysteria along with inexperienced prosecutors and or criminal defense lawyers – it should hardly come as a surprise.

For those who are falsely accused, the price is very high. For months – if not years – after being was falsely accused of child sexual abuse, the loss of one’s home, one’s reputation, one’s sense of personal safety in the community, even, yes even one’s freedom is at common.

Wearing Down – The Plea Bargain Begins To Become A Real Possibility

Accepting a plea bargain – under these circumstances – may being to seem rational and even a food idea. Admitting to one of the charges and locking in the sentence – in light of the hysteria that has just been described – may seem the right thing to do. Sparing your family the anguish of testifying and bringing all of it to a quick conclusion after so many weary nights and days – may seem the right thing to do.

Reject the notion of pleading guilty when you are innocent. While it is agreed that sexual abuse of a child, if it happened, is a repulsive act, and it is understandable that a jury would target the accused of this terrible activity – it is equally repulsive that a person’s life could be destroyed by a false allegation of sexual abuse of a child.

No one would argue with the proposition that sexual abuse should be prosecuted with all of the might of the law – but we must be equally certain as a society to not judge an individual on unsubstantiated rumors and a clear lack of evidence

False Charges Of Sexual Assault On A Child

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author – A Denver Colorado sex Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.

If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about False Charges Of Sexual Assault On A Child, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.

Colorado Sex Crimes LawyerH. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience – specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range. He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options. Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case. Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.

Helping Clients To Make Informed Decisions In the Defense of Colorado Criminal Cases.

Contact A Lawyer with Three Decades of Experience as a Denver Criminal Attorney at The Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm today.

Colorado Defense Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg provides solid criminal defense for clients throughout the Front Range of Colorado – including the City and County courts of Adams County, Arapahoe County, City and County of Boulder, City and County of Broomfield, City and County of Denver, Douglas County, El Paso County – Colorado Springs, Gilpin County, Jefferson County, Larimer County, and Weld County,…. and all the other cities and counties of Colorado along the I-25 Corridor… on cases involving …False Charges Of Sexual Assault On A Child.


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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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