Friday, November 27, 2015
Statement Analysis: Sexual Assault Case
She said: My co worker sexually assaulted me.
He said: I did not touch her.
There are no witnesses and no forensic evidence. Statement Analysis gets to the truth.
In the language of female victims of childhood sexual abuse, we have indicators that if not understood on their own, can appear deceptive at worst, unreliable at best. There is a common appearance of "passivity" in language which is as a direct result of childhood sexual abuse, intrusive thoughts, perseveration, and re-victimization.
The language of adult victims of childhood sexual abuse is something that we devote an entire chapter upon in Statement Analysis training. The language is unique and the passivity must be analyzed in context.
Sex crimes investigators, even with years of experience can miss certain signals. At times a woman can make an allegation of sexual assault where even the experienced and well trained investigator is faced with a very difficult situation far beyond:
Is this allegation true?
Is this a false allegation?
Is it true, but it happened years ago?
Did it proceed from memory?
Did it proceed from experiential memory?
Or, memory from what someone said, memory of a movie, memory of...
something that happened in childhood?
Did the allegation really happen as stated or is it something from long ago?
More importantly: Did the allegation happen when the victim claimed by the perpetrator the victim claimed or...
is this a statement from experiential memory that is a statement of perseveration?
In other words, it is true and it came from experiential memory, but did it happened 15 years ago, not last night, and the subject is 'confused'?
Because...it happens. Perseveration is something we must consider and it is common among adults with developmental disabilities, and although uncommon in the general population, it does show up in the language of adults who were victimized in childhood.
A recent statement produced such a challenge.
It alleged sexual abuse by a young woman.
A young woman alleged that an older man sexually assaulted her at the work place. It was a real "she said; he said" with no witnesses and no forensics.
She said it happened and was an assault, not consensual.
He said it did not happen at all; no consent, no flirtation and no touching.
Statements were obtained for analysis.
Experts weighed in, either directly involved in the case, or assisting or commenting:
1. A sex crimes supervisor saw the statements and said, "Issue an arrest warrant; he did it. She is truthful, he is not, and it was not consensual."
This man had not only years of experience specifically in investigating sex crimes but was in a position of authority, having been promoted in his sex crimes unit.
2. The statement analysts in training said, "It did happen, but the contact was consensual."
This looked correct until the analysts were challenged with this:
the alleged victim gave linguistic indication of childhood sexual abuse, prompting the investigator to learn: Is there any record of the female subject making claims in childhood? The analysts were then told:
You must discern between possible perseveration and post trauma language, and if it happened when the subject claimed it did.
This was new to all of them. There were linguistic indications within the statement that suggested that the victim was likely abused sexually in childhood and may be experiencing trauma or its after-affects.
3. The lead investigator was thus even more confused when he learned that, yes, she was abused in childhood and the following:
"It is the same allegation made many years ago by the subject when she was a child."
Now the analysts in training must pause, review their work, and look deeply to learn if it happened now, or many years ago.
Here is why: There is no "consent in childhood", legally or linguistically, but children's statements, written or verbal, are often passive voice and disassociation will produce some very 'spacey' like or strange sounding statements.
Still, there is something else to consider:
If a woman was sexually abused in childhood and the sexual abuse predates speech, she possess no linguistic skill to communicate this.
So, what is the answer? Can we know for sure?
Did it happen, here and now, or did she perseverate on a past event, which also happens?
Or, did it not happen, as the alleged perpetrator asserts in his interview?
4. The investigator who interviewed the alleged perpetrator felt strongly that he didn't do it and said, "he is going to take a polygraph." He claims not that it was consensual, but it did not take place. He repeated: there was no contact whatsoever.
This seems to fit with the fact that the statement is truthful, but truthful about what happened many years ago, and the alleged perpetrator is also truthful that he did not touch her. The language suggests experiential memory (truth) but was this experienced now, or many years ago?
There was a problem in all of this, however:
The statements were analyzed thoroughly and showed the following:
a. The subject indicated in her language a history of childhood sexual abuse. This was indicated and caused the investigator to check files where it was discovered that a very similar claim was made many years ago. Verification of the analysis was made.
b. The subject's language showed veracity in the claim of sexual contact, but not as an assault. She did not resist nor express, verbally, for him to stop.
c. The subject's language in the interview was also truthful in that "I did not want him to do this to me" and felt as if she was being accused of lying. She was not. She did not "want" it to happen.
d. Perseveration: The subject passively allowed the perpetrator, many years (40) older than herself , to sexually molest her without protest. She was truthful in that she did not want him to do this, but felt powerless to make this claim, due to her childhood history.
e. The accused denied it entirely and his statement not only showed deception, but "allowed" for someone to think contrary to his claim in a tiny detail. This is not something the innocent do.
A follow up interview advised, specifically with his own language as the point of sensitivity to obtain admission. The analysis suggested: he will admit, but he will not confess. That is to say: he will eventually admit sexual contact, but he sees nothing wrong with it because he is an exploiter of a very specific kind of woman.
Analysis suggested that he likely had a lengthy history of doing this and had a 'knack' for preying upon women molested in childhood who inevitably put themselves in dangerous situations due to self loathing. I have interviewed many men like this, and they prey upon teen girls, especially, staring them down uncomfortably, and 'read' their reactions. It is difficult to listen to. They isolate the one who lacks the personal boundary and protective capacity to assert oneself. They prey like a shark who smells blood, upon the teen or young adult victim of childhood sexual abuse.
In this specific case: The polygraph and subsequent interview, showed the analysis to be accurate:
He had done this many times before, and had molested her. She did not stop him, due to the 'freeze' that adult victims of childhood sexual abuse sometimes do. He admitted the sexual contact.
The investigator, armed with the truth of the Statement Analysis conclusion obtained an admission from the perpetrator, and besides much tears from the victim, encouraged her with the hope of professional intervention.
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