Investigative Forensic Interviews

The Anna Crawford Children’s Center CAC program provides forensic investigative services upon referral from Cherokee law enforcement agencies, the Cherokee County Department of Family and Children Services and the Cherokee County DA’s Office.  Forensic interview services may be provided for investigative agencies from other counties, as needed.  Forensic interview services are provided to children 3 to 18 years of age, and may also be provided to adults with developmental challenges who are suspected of being abused or exploited.  Forensic interviews are provided for suspected cases of child sexual abuse or exploitation, physical abuse and exposure to violence.  If you suspect a child has been abused, contact your local law enforcement agency or the Department of Family and Children Services.

Because most abuse is not witnessed by others, and because most perpetrators of abuse will deny the abuse, the child’s statement about his or her experiences is a critical part of any investigation of abuse. For this reason, among others, it is imperative that the child be interviewed in a manner that is objective and non-leading, and conducted by someone with specialized training in investigative, forensic interviewing of children.

A forensic interview is one where information from a child is obtained in an objective, unbiased, developmentally and culturally sensitive manner that is fact finding in nature. The forensic interview is conducted in a legally defensible manner by someone who has received specialized training in the area of forensic interviewing of children. One of the goals of the forensic interview is to assess whether or not a crime has occurred.  Therefore, the results of the interview are documented in such a way that they can stand up under judicial scrutiny.  Each forensic interview is digitally recorded and is observed by involved investigative team members from a separate observation room.  In an effort to promote trust between the child and interviewer, the forensic interviewer informs the child, when developmentally appropriate, that the forensic interview is being recorded.

Forensic interviews are provided in English, Spanish and Portuguese, at no charge.  Frequently, the forensic interview recordings are played during various legal proceedings, such as hearings and trials.

At times a child may not be able to successfully engage in the forensic interview process, perhaps because of trauma, anxiety or limited verbal or cognitive skills.  In this type of case, if there is additional information that leads investigators to be concerned that abuse or trauma has occurred, the child may be referred for an extended forensic evaluation. A forensic evaluation typically takes place over several sessions. The extended nature of the forensic evaluation allows the child additional time to acclimate to the forensic process and allows the evaluator additional opportunities to explore concerns through objective, developmentally sensitive techniques.  All forensic evaluation sessions are provided at the Anna Crawford Children’s Center and are also digitally recorded.

Upon completion of the forensic interview or evaluation, the multidisciplinary team makes recommendations regarding the child’s need for medical and mental health treatment.