Domestic Violence and False Child Abuse Allegations

Domestic Violence and False Child Abuse Allegations

Colorado Criminal Law: Domestic Violence Cases – False Allegations of Child Abuse

H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Law Expert

The Federal Government will award $20 million in grants in 2004 to communities across the nation to plan and develop Family Advocacy Centers. (United States Department of Justice Fact Sheet on The President’s Family Justice Center Initiative). The DOJ’s Fact Sheet reveals hidden financial incentives in the formation of centers to promote domestic violence cases. Family violence “services” will create a large number of jobs and benefit center associated professionals. Dropping cases will not.

According to the DOJ Fact Sheet, the Family Violence Centers may include the following “services”:

• Medical Care, Including On-site or Off-site Primary Physical Care, Mental Health Counseling for Victims and Dependents, Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Collection;

• Law Enforcement and Legal Assistance Services, Including On-site Help to Get Protective Orders Signed and Enforced, to Investigate and Prosecute Offenders, and Provide Witness Assistance and Court-based Victim Advocates;

• State-of-the-art Information Sharing and Case Management Systems;

• Social Services, Including Federal and State Welfare Assistance for Parents and Children;

• Employment Assistance, Including Employment and Career Counseling and Training Through Local One Stop Employment Centers or Other Local Services;

• Substance Abuse Treatment;

• Child-related Needs Such as Parenting Classes, Teen Pregnancy Services, Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Programs, Services for Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence, Assistance for Relocating Children into New Schools, Truancy Programs, and Youth Mentoring Programs;

• Housing and Transportation Assistance to Cover Immediate Needs and Help with Long-term Housing Solutions; and

• Chaplaincy or Faith-based Counseling Programs Providing Victims and Their Families with Non-sectarian Spiritual Guidance.

Which professionals directly benefit from a community-based Family Violence Center?

• Medical: Physicians, S.A.N.E (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners), and Nurses;

• Law Enforcement: Police Investigators, Patrol, Polygraph Operators; Supervisors, Staff;

• Legal: District Attorney’s Offices; Assistant District Attorneys, Investigators, Staff;

• Social Services: Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, Caseworkers, Investigators, Supervisors, and Support Staff;

• Employment Offices: Employment Agencies, Workers, and Staff;

• “Forensic Interviewers”;

• Substance Abuse Centers: Substance Abuse Counselors;

• Child Related Vendors; Counselors and Therapists;

• Housing Authorities; Placement and Personnel

• Counseling Services: Mental Health, Rage and Anger, Battering Intervention Prevention Program Counselors, Marriage Counselors, Family Counselors;

• Women’s Advocacy Group Personnel

• Women’s Shelter Placement Personnel and Shelter Personnel

• Victim Advocate Services Personnel (Advocates to Support Victims and Monitor the Individual Case from Arrest Through Trial).

Who on the above list benefits if no arrest and charge are made? Ultimately, this begs the big question:

• Is the government interested in the quality or the quantity of domestic abuse cases? For example, see Silverstorn, The Truth About Child Protective Services.

A critic of the Domestic Violence Industry, John Flaherty, co-chairman of the Fatherhood Coalition in Massachusetts states:

“This industry is an octopus. It’s got its tentacles in more and more parts of everyday life. It’s a political movement…This industry doesn’t answer to anybody. They’re in it mainly for the money…The industry’s problems may be about to increase, because it is becoming clear through scientific research that the whole premise of the movement and the industry it spawned — that “domestic violence” means bad men hitting helpless, innocent women — is just plain wrong.”                                        

The Family Advocacy Centers will operate with the group mindset of most bureaucracies. “The agencies’ main objective is self preservation: to perpetuate the bureaucracy and to expand the bureaucracy.” (Silverstorn, The Truth About Child Protective Services).

The method for doing this is by seeking and making cases.

How do the advocacy centers get the number of cases they need? A philosophical change at the most basic level was needed. In order to make the numbers work, the definition of domestic violence had to be expanded to extend beyond battering spouses and include normal family arguments and lover’s quarrels. In essence, the system adapted by accepting each domestic disturbance “911” call as a potential customer.

“A call to 911 is generally mutually assured destruction of a relationship, marriage, family, and the lives of all involved. It doesn’t matter that you’re innocent. Or that she attacked you first. Or that you both went over the line and that both of you want to put it behind you and work it out. The system will prosecute you and persecute you until you’ve confessed your sins — even if you’ve none to confess. And you’re not cured until they say you’re cured — even if you were never sick to begin with.”

What Happens When 911 is Dialed Under Current Colorado Law

“Zero Tolerance” and “No Drop” policies create a constant stream of what the advocacy centers need most: bodies. More arrests result in more persons charged. The assembly line then takes over, and the unwitting family becomes passed on from one self-interested protector to another. Post arrest the victim is “assisted” by the police detective, “forensic interviewer,” and the prosecutor. Incriminatory statements secured, the prosecution team will temporarily lose interest until trial. [Ed. notes: In moderate to large cities each prosecutor will have at least several hundred DV cases assigned to them at any given time.]

At this point, the victim support groups take over, advocates are appointed, shelters are called, and counselors engaged. The list goes on until the family is emotionally, psychologically, and financially drained. And if it all goes perfectly for the team: conviction.

In essence, a great food chain is created, in which many professionals, counselors, physicians, and vendors, are feeding off persons arrested and charged under “Zero Tolerance” programs. Family advocacy salesmen freely admit the concept is a direct springboard from the child advocacy centers. An Allen Texas Police Investigator states: “The children’s advocacy center works very well in Collin County…crime victims groups in Collin County work well together. So having a family justice center would encourage that more.” (Dallas Morning News, Collin County Edition, March 14, 2004, “Groups Unite To End Domestic Violence”).

The financial rewards for family advocacy centers will not be dependent upon criminal convictions. The funding will be given to the centers regardless of the outcome of the case, or truth of the allegations. With absolute immunity from liability, the family advocacy center team members have no fear of any repercussions for their actions.

Team unity: Take out a family for the team

The majority of District Attorney’s Offices in Colorado follow the national model of having specialized family violence units, where assigned prosecutors and investigators handle only domestic violence cases. Many Colorado law enforcement agencies have specialty domestic violence teams. All of the law enforcement agencies affiliated with an advocacy center assign officers to the center as part of a domestic violence task force.

The creation of specialized domestic violence prosecution teams has but one goal: conviction of a suspected perpetrator. The advocacy team collaboration of prosecutors, police, social workers, medical professionals, counselors and others are a team in every sense of the word. They share more than a central location. They share belief systems, ideologies, strategies, and a game plan. That game plan is to convict any person charged with domestic violence. The belief system is one that every person charged with domestic violence is a batterer. The belief system also finds every victim of domestic violence to be a battered spouse.

The belief system incorporates extreme arrogance. The family violence team knows better than anyone, particularly the family itself, what is best for them. The team works together in secret, planning and mapping out strategy to forge the future of the family, whether it is in their best interests or not.

“Unfortunately, it won’t really matter what happened that night or how capable she (alleged victim) is of deciding for herself whether or not she needs protection — the court and the prosecutors can still say no. They can stand by and tell that victim that she doesn’t really know what’s best for her and her family. She is a victim — how can she possibly know what’s best after what she’s been through?

Many of these people know exactly what is best for them and their families, and yet are revictimized by the powerlessness imposed upon them by a system of people who know better.

Colorado Domestic Violence Lawyer