Our client asked us to locate a former victim of child sexual abuse 12 years after the crime took place to determine what happened. The perpetrator was publicly claiming his innocence on a website. Although we did not have her name, after several attempts, we located the victim and interviewed her and her parents. We found that the stories of the victim and her parents all confirmed the perpetrator's guilt. The victim, who had just begun dealing with her childhood abuse, welcomed the opportunity to set the record straight.

The Story:

For legitimate but confidential reasons, our client wished to locate the victim of a sex crime that took place 12 years before our search, in order to get a better idea of the truth in the matter. The perpetrator, who now lived in Europe, had been charged with child sexual abuse - lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under the age of 14. In 1994, he had pled guilty to the charges that were filed against him in two California counties. He served six months in jail and was given probation. He then violated the terms of his release, by leaving the United States for his former European home. A felony warrant for his arrest was issued in 1996, and it remains outstanding. The child in this case was 12 and 13 during the time the various molestation incidents had happened and was now 25. We did not know her name, but knew that she was his niece and that her parents had gone through an acrimonious divorce prior to the incidents.

This convicted felon was now claiming on a website that he had been falsely accused and had no choice but enter into a plea bargain because of the way the U.S. justice system works. He was blaming the victim, describing "the girl" as "sexually active" and given to "running away from home, smoking marijuana at school, and becoming promiscuous."

Our first call was to the convicted sex-offender's ex-wife, who still lived in the California county where she had lived with him. We knew that she was the sister of either the mother or father of the child. We explained that we were trying to locate her niece, but she would not give us any information. She said that she had "put that all behind her" many years ago and did not wish to discuss it anymore.

After that first interview, we had to go back to the drawing board. Unfortunately, her surname was a very common one, so it was difficult to accurately locate her siblings through database research. In our first attempt, the family we found with a child about the age of the victim in this case was the wrong family. Once again we had to return to square one and, finally, through painstaking research, we located the name of the ex-wife's mother, which led us to a sister with a child about the age of the child who was abused at 13. This woman, the presumed mother of the victim, was still living in Southern California. The victim and her father and step-mother, however, were now living in another state.

Our client approved our plan of contacting the family all at once, in person, rather than by telephone. We know that in-person interviews are more effective, particularly in being able to observe body language and determine if someone is responding truthfully. We also did not want any of the interviewees to have time to call each other and compare notes.

We sent two investigators out of state on the case. At the same time, coordinating their visits by cell phone, one investigator knocked on the former victim's door, another on the door of her father's and step-mother's home and a third on door of her mother's home. The plan went off perfectly. The victim, the mother and the step-mother were all at home and all agreed to speak with our investigators. The victim was actually quite stunned and moved by the appearance of our investigator since she had recently been trying to deal with the effects of the abuse from her childhood. Her boyfriend was with her at the time. She had recently confided in him about the abuse, and he encouraged her to speak openly with us.

After conducting all three interviews and several follow-up interviews in subsequent weeks with both the victim, her step-mother, her father and her mother, as well as interviews with childhood friends of the victim, we concluded that the stories were all consistent and that in our view there was no question that there had been child sexual abuse in this case, despite the perpetrator's current attempts to blame the victim.

On a gratifying side-note, subsequent to our investigation, the victim called us to ask for the contact information for the perpetrator. She had decided, for her own healing, to call and confront him.

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