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Child Witnesses in Child Sexual Abuse Cases in Texas

Thu Sep 15, 10:05pm

If you were arrested for any child sexual abuse crime in Texas, it is important to seek out the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Stuckle & Associates PLLC represent clients throughout Plano, TX, and the surrounding areas in the greater Dallas – Fort Worth area.

Sexual abuse, assault, or molestation of a child can affect not only the victim severely, but it can also affect friends and family in profound ways. These crimes can cause physical and psychological damage that can affect a victim’s personality, career, and relationships over a lifetime.

Prosecutors are aggressive in prosecuting these cases. After a false allegation involving any form of child abuse, you also need a criminal defense attorney that will aggressively fight to protect your rights.

Why a Child Witness Makes a False Allegation

In 1987, the testimony of children was viewed as honest and the prevailing opinion was that young children could not be persuaded the abuse that never happened. The belief was that, although children might be led through suggestive interviews to make unimportant errors concerning peripheral details, they could not be persuaded to lie about important, crucial events.

It is now generally accepted in the scientific community that continuous questioning can lead children to perhaps recall events that never occurred, even when they first denied them. Sometimes the continuous questioning can result in a child recalling an event that never happened.

According to an article in the Psychological Bulletin called ” The suggestibility of the child witness: A historical review and synthesis” by S. Ceci and M. Bruck:

  • Even young children are capable of recalling much that is forensically relevant.
  • There are significant age differences in suggestibility, with preschool-age children being more vulnerable to suggestion than either school-aged children or adults.
  • Children can be led to make false or inaccurate reports about very crucial, personally experienced events.
  • Contrary to the claims of some, children sometimes lie when the motivational structure is tilted towards lying.

These facts were not generally accepted by the scientific community in 1987.

In many cases where a false allegation is made, more damage is caused by the individuals whose responsibility it was to obtain the truth, such as law enforcement, social services or psychologists.

Usually, these “professionals” have limited or no training in the correct procedure for interviewing a child. They conduct interviews using dolls or pictures. They conduct interviews during playtime. Their questions are leading and suggestive. They accept at face value a child’s allegation as fact. They immediately and automatically treat the child as the “victim.”

From that point on, both that “professional” and that child are “hooked.” The “professional” because the child is telling them what they want to hear. The child, because they can “read” in the interviewer (their voice, tone, their expression) what they are saying that pleases them. This is far from a search for the truth, yet it happens repeatedly and is responsible for the conviction of many innocent people.

Children, regardless of age, can be manipulated to say whatever someone desires, if they work with the child long enough. False allegations thrive when the child interviewers are not trained and have no conception of how to properly interview a child. They begin by treating the child as a “victim” and the child immediately notices the “pity” being extended to them. That gives the child an assurance that whatever they say will be taken at face value. Then, the interviewer uses leading and suggestive questioning, a clear message to the child as to the manner in which they should respond, because children are suggestible.

If an allegation of abuse is real, most children will readily be able to recount all events. When the allegation is false, they cannot provide details to events that never took place. Determining the credibility of a child’s statements can easily mean the difference between freedom and conviction for an accused.

Additional Resources

Child Witness Suggestibility in False Allegation Cases – Read more about child witnesses in child sexual abuse cases


The criminal defense attorneys in Texas at Stuckle & Associates PLLC represent clients who have been charged with child sexual abuse crimes in Plano, TX and the surrounding areas in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area. Contact our offices at (972) 423-4405 to schedule an initial consultation, either in the office or on the phone.

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