If you do not think that you fall into the category of “The Usual Suspects” accused of a crime against a child you are wrong. Find out why here.
You Are Close To A Child
The people most commonly accused of committing a crime against a child are actually those closest to the child. That means you – stepdad, mom’s boyfriend, uncle, cousin, grandpa, godfather, teacher, coach, daycare worker, caregiver. You are the most vulnerable. We don’t walk around all day everyday insulating ourselves from the children in our lives and the children in our loved one’s lives. You know your own moral fiber and your good character. You know that the other adults in your life trust you around the kids. One day you are everybody’s favorite “fun uncle” and the next day you are in jail. Yesterday you were the long-suffering stepdad who has raised your wife’s children as your own and the next day your picture is being shown on the 6 o’clock news.
All They Need Is Her Word
All it takes is the word of one child – even a child who doesn’t realize the gravity and consequences of his or her allegation – to bring catastrophic change to your life. Really, that’s all it takes. Time and time again, law enforcement, DHS and even the District Attorney bring and substantiate charges against the man everyone trusted to be alone with the kids yesterday – only to have everything change based on the uncorroborated word of a child.
I’m often asked, “Why me?” Why would a child you love and have raised accuse their stepdad of an awful crime? There are endless reasons. Among them are that the child does not realize the repercussions of her false allegation. She does not realize you are facing mandatory prison time. She does not realize you would be required to register as a sex offender for up to the rest of your life. At first, all she was thinking about was herself. Perhaps she wanted you out of the house. Perhaps she wanted all of mom’s attention again. Perhaps it’s as simple as “You’re not my father!” Sometimes an allegation comes about after you have instituted new rules in the home. Or sometimes after you have introduced rules, expectations and responsibilities for the first time in the child’s life. She may resent your rules and expectations. She may just resent mom having someone else in her life now.
It Can Easily Happen To You
Nearly everyone who walks in our door tells us, “I never thought this could happen to me.” I have sat across the table from men in their 20’s all the way into their 80’s – frightened men, strong men reduced to tears because a child somehow connected to their life has made a wild accusation and their world is now crumbling around them. Do not make the mistake of believing that just because you didn’t see it coming, it couldn’t happen to you. And once it has happened, don’t make the mistake of giving the frivolous allegation any merit.
Do Not Apologize
Let me repeat that - do not apologize. As human beings, our instinct is to apologize when we are told we have aggrieved or wronged another person. I have lost count of the number of clients who have apologized – and not even known what they were apologizing for! Everything from, “I’m sorry, I don’t remember doing that” to “Whatever I did, please tell her I’m sorry” has been recharacterized by law enforcement, DHS and prosecutors as a confession. What are you confessing to? A crime you didn’t commit? An act you are confident is not in your moral fiber to do? Something awful you are confident isn’t true but you feel bad calling the child a liar? All of these apologies are instinctual but they can be fatal to your defense in the courtroom.
You didn’t think you would ever be in this position, but now it’s time to pick up the phone. Get advice and counsel before it’s too late. Call the people who have devoted their lives to defending these serious allegations.
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