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Richard Lougee

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The Role of Child Protective Services in a Criminal Investigation

If you become a suspect in an investigation involving child sexual abuse allegations, your first contact with the authorities may be from a social service agency like Child Protective Services. People are often told the CPS investigation is simply trying to get information to close a file or to help a traumatized child. Do not be fooled: This is probably not a warm and soft social work event but rather the beginning of a serious criminal prosecution. Be aware that in many areas CPS, the police agencies and the prosecutors all work under an inter-agency protocol which makes them one big team for the investigation of criminal allegations involving children. This means the CPS investigator may in fact be gathering information for the police to be used in a criminal prosecution. Once the prosecution begins, CPS can coerce witnesses to help the state's case. For example, CPS has been known to threaten to take custody of a child when the mother doesn't “emotionally support the child” – ie. enthusiastically support the state's case by uncritically believing the child's accusations. If you are contacted by a CPS worker who wants to interview you concerning a child under your care or in your household, contact an attorney immediately and do not submit to an interview.

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