Sexual Assault of a Minor

One of the horrors that comes to the surface in family law is the sexual assault of children.  More times than I would like, I’ve had a parent call me in distress, concerned that the child is being sexually assaulted at the other parent’s home.  Here are some pointers for how to deal with such a traumatic and sensitive situation:

1) Call the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and ask them to conduct an investigation.  They will conduct a SAIN interview, which is a 1-time interview with the child.  The purpose of a SAIN interview is to keep the child from being interviewed multiple times.

2) Immediately seek legal counsel to file an emergency motion and temporarily suspend visitation with the allegedly violent parent until the court is able to reach a judgment.

3) Take the minor child to the pediatrician, who will conduct an evaluation.  The pediatrician is a mandatory reporter who will call the Department of Children and Families (DCF) if DCF has not been already notified.  The pediatrician’s records might also come in handy at trial.

4) Find a therapist or psychologist who specializes in these issues and enroll your child in therapy.  Therapy is doubly beneficial; the child will be able to work out some of the terrible things that happened to him/her, and a professional will monitor his/her mental state.

5) Although I would not advise this for the vast majority of cases, on occasion with young children, it is appropriate to take photographs of the injury.  For example, I saw a case where a 3-year old was being violently hit on his groin and upper thighs.  In that case, the photograph of his legs (which were taken while he was sleeping) were sufficient to win an emergency motion barring the allegedly violent parent from seeing the child until the court reached a conclusion.